Somnambule - Writing About Music

Wallace Roney ~ Mystikal

Alongside four Roney originals, two of which are co-composed with his wife Geri Allen, Mystikal features compositions by Wayne Shorter, Bud Powell, Kenny Dorham and Norman Whitfield. Val Jeanty gives good turntable, Matt Garrison’s bass bubbles away effervescently and the inestimable Geri Allen’s Fender Rhodes percolates in alternate busy and reflective modes. There’s much excellent ensemble work and some fine, funkily  creative soloing. However, it’s difficult to agree with the opening – and rather defensive - sentence of the accompanying press release: “Wallace Roney has definitely escaped from the shadow of his idol Miles Davis.” When Wallace and his saxophonist brother Antoine play unison lines, the group achieve that marvellously sophisticated sound achieved by the classic Miles Davis Quintet that produced ESP, Nefertiti and the others (as well as Shorter’s The Soothsayer). The sound is utterly redolent of the mid ‘60s, even when it’s also garnished with the aforementioned scratching, a smattering of samples and, occasionally, keyboard sounds reminiscent of ‘80s Miles albums like Decoy. There’s a clear and surely frequently remarked irony that, although Miles is clearly a major influence, his focus upon sonic innovation is the one aspect not extensively explored by his disciple. However, such originality is a rare gift and shouldn’t mitigate against the many pleasures delivered by the deeply funky group captured on Mystikal, particularly the seven minutes of driving, muscular pleasure on the penultimate Nice Town.

Colin Buttimer
January 2006
Published by Signal To Noise magazine