The old saw that trumpeter Wallace Roney sounds just like Miles Davis is beside the point because, well, he does sound a heck of a lot like Miles. That’s okay. A generation of trumpeters sounded just like Dizzy Gillespie or just like Clifford Brown. On the live record If Only for One Night, Roney and his working quintet present a varied program of music that runs straight toward the Miles connection.
Here, the band starts with a Bitches Brew era funk workout, “Quadrant”, with Aruan Ortiz rocking a heavy synth sound, a clavinet groove, and eventually an adventurous acoustic piano solo. Roney is pungent on trumpet, and he has his brother Antoine back in the band here playing tenor and soprano. On “Only with You” and “Metropolis”, the quintet sounds like Miles in the 1960s, playing driving post-bop that brims with muscular attitude. Roney is Harmon-muted and introspective on the title track, and he pulls off a Miles-esque pop cover of Janet Jackson on “Let’s Wait a While”.
Throughout this set, the band is inventive and powerful, even if they seem to be searching for a clear identity. In being able to play anything (at least anything Davis-inspired), the band loses itself a bit. Roney seems most himself on the final track, a solo trumpet essay for his son, where he sheds the Miles sound somewhat and hints at his classical studies.