Jazz trumpet player Wallace Roney, who has worked with the likes of jazz legends such as Miles Davis and Art Blakey, has passed away at the age of 59. The performer had suffered from complications caused by the coronavirus, which led him to be hospitalized last week at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey.
Roney was born in Philadelphia on May 25th, 1960, where he picked up the trumpet at the age of five. He eventually began playing with the classical brass quintet the Philadelphia Brass at the age of 12 under the tutelage of Clark Terry, before going on to high school at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and college at Howard University. He also studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
He eventually came into contact with Blakey, where he performed alongside the Jazz Messengers in a position once helmed by legendary player Wynton Marsalis. He also performed alongside Tony Williams for several records released by Blue Note during the mid 1980s to the 1990s, and played alongside Davis at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1991.
In 1994 he won his first and only Grammy for A Tribute to Miles, recorded with Williams and the surviving members of Davis’ legendary quintet. Roney, like many other Jazz performers of his era looked up to Davis, whom he has discussed in several interviews.
“I was fortunate enough to be Miles’ protégé. He liked what I played, and from that point on, I was there any time he was playing,” Roney explained in an interview with All About Jazz. “Whenever I could, I would go see him. And some of the conversations that I had with him, I’d utilize on the bandstand with Tony Williams or with Art Blakey.”