In 2012, Crystal Roney contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in recording her brother Wallace. I have to admit that I didn’t know much about him at the time. But after doing a little research and asking few couple of musician friends about him, I was thrilled that someone of his calibre would be willing to bring his band to Los Angeles on a shoestring budget to record an album with AIX Records. In many ways, his project is unique among the 75 albums that I produced. Wallace Roney’s music is introspective, full of unique colors (including the additional of a turntablist!), and the sound of his muted trumpet is expressive beyond all measure.
As I sat yesterday evening responding to HD-Audio Challenge II participants, my wife walked into my office and told me that Wallace Roney had died in Patterson, New Jersey on Tuesday, March 31. Complications from the coronavirus took him. He was only 59 years old.
Wallace was the epitome of cool. He wore his sunglasses on the stage at the Zipper Hall and wore a jacket with insignias and military bars. I usually manage to engage with the artists that agree to record with us but Wallace, while friendly, was singularly focused on his music — on bringing his best to our session. I actually had a better connection with his brother Antoine, the saxophone and clarinet player in the group. But it didn’t matter. When he put his lips to his horn, the sound the emerged was blissful.
I’m so grateful that I managed to capture one of the great trumpet players of our time. His Blu-ray disc, the surround mixes and the intimate HD-Video, is a perfect example of what I wanted to capture on my label. It’s very sad that the world is losing so many wonderful artists. I learned jazz guitarist John ‘Bucky’ Pizzarelli also passed due to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, there will be more.
And not just artists/musicians. As I sat at the park early this morning with my face mask on watching Charlie (our border collie) search for a tennis ball, I watched an interview with a woman that had just lost her husband on my cellphone. He was only 42. A father of three, she described in detail how he went from having a slight fever and cough to receiving the last rites and dying alone in a hospital only in less than a week. How incredibly sad it was to watch and hear. We all need to be vigilant and do whatever we can to stop this pandemic. Please do your part.