Jazz legend Wallace Roney dies at 59, from coronavirus complications: Photos, Videos

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Famed jazz trumpeter Wallace Roney, who studied with Miles Davis and other legendary players, has reportedly died today from “complications of COVID-19.”

“I am saddened to confirm that the iconic trumpeter and jazz legend Wallace Roney passed away due to complications of COVID-19 this morning just before noon,” publicist Lydia Liebman said in a news release. “The family is looking to have a memorial service to honor Wallace and his musical contributions once this pandemic has passed. Please respect their privacy at this time.” Roney was 59.

“Working with Wallace was and will remain one of the greatest privileges of my life,” Liebman says in the news release. “It was an honor to represent him and to be part of his musical world. I cannot even begin to express how much I will miss him and his music.”

Born in Philadelphia on May 25, 1960, Roney picked up the trumpet at an early age and reportedly went on to take lessons with jazz greats Clark Terry and Dizzy Gillespie.

He is well known for his association with the legendary Miles Davis, who began mentoring Roney in the mid-’80s.

Prior to studying with Miles Davis, Roney received his jazz education from Clark Terry and Duke Ellington. Roney studied with Davis from 1985 until the latter’s death in 1991. According to Roney’s official website biography, he first became acquainted with Davis in 1983 after Roney performed at Carnegie Hall. That bio goes on to say that in the same year as Davis’ death, the pair performed together at the Montreaux Jazz Festival.

On that profile, Roney says of his career, “My goal is to make the best music I can. I enjoy, listen and can play all types of music I filter my expression through the jazz experience.”

2. Roney Had 3 Children With His Late Wife, Geri Allen

Live at Moods: Wallace Roney Quintet “Metropolis”Recorded live at Jazz Club Moods in Zurich, on the 15.05.2018 

Allen passed away in 2017. Allen and Roney divorced in 2008. Allen, a famed jazz pianist in her own right, died in June 2017 following a battle with cancer. The couple’s marriage had ended in divorce, according to Roney’s NPR tribute.

Roney performed on four of Allen’s albums, beginning with “Maroons” in 1992. The final collaboration came in 2006 with, “Timeless Portraits and Dreams.”

3. Online Tributes to Roney Have Been Flooding in on Social Media

Wallace Roney Miles DAVIS

Roney and guitarist Mike Stern perform a medley of Miles Davis songs to honor the late inductee Miles Davis during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York, 13 March 2006.

Writer Steve Silberman said of Roney, “Oh lord. Brilliant #jazz trumpeter Wallace Roney has died of #coronavirus, per @901JAZZ. Just two months ago, his band was playing scorching sets at DC’s Blues Alley.”

Here are of the other most poignant tributes to Roney:

Danilo Pérez

@DaniloPerezJAZZ

Very sad to hear the news that jazz trumpeter Wallace Roney has passed away due to complications from coronavirus. I am at a loss for words. RIP Wallace.

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Farnell Newton@farnellnewton

I first saw while attending High School at CAPA in Philadelphia. It was most definitely life-changing in my approach to trumpet. Wallace never played a note just to play it….every note was was meaningful with intent.

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Jessica Webster

@A2Jess

4. Roney Released What Proved to Be His Final Album in the Summer of 2019

WolfbaneProvided to YouTube by IDOL Wolfbane · Wallace Roney Blue Dawn – Blue Nights ℗ HighNote Records, Inc. Released on: 2019-08-30 Composer: Lenny White Auto-generated

In the summer of 2019, Roney released what proved to be his final album, “Blue Dawn – Blue Nights.” Glide Magazine reported that the album was Roney’s 22nd album as a leader. The album did not feature any new compositions.

Roney told the magazine at the time:

My music is uncompromising, so I look for musicians who have an expansive understanding of what’s possible and who have the ability to play above that, but who are always cognizant of what’s going on around them.

I tell them ‘be true to who you are. Go all the way in, learn every part of what the masters have done, but let it come out of you’.

5. Roney Believed You Had to Be an ‘Accomplished Musician’ to Perform Jazz Music

Wallace Roney cause of death

GettyRoney during a rehearsal in Madrid, on November 6, 2009.

Roney said in an October 2019 interview with All About Jazz that due to the “beauty” of jazz music, you have to be an “accomplished musician” to perform it.

Roney continued saying, “However, there are other musics where you’re not accomplished, but music springs up out of you anyway. It’s not what I do, and it’s not what I prefer to listen to, but I’m not critical of it.”

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