Antoine Roney Trio
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Antoine Roney Trio

New York City, NY | Established. Jan 01, 1990

New York City, NY
Established on Jan, 1990
Band Jazz World




"Jazz at The Madison"

Jazz at The Madison
Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu

My first exposure to reed wizard Antoine Roney was on drummer Cody Moffett’s 1993 TelArc release Evidence. What stays with me more than the music on that disc (which was hellacious, by the way) was the line-up backing Moffett on his debut as a leader: Along with brother/bassist Charnett Moffett, sax fiend Kenny Garrett and pianist Kenny Drew Jr., Antoine was joined on the disc’s front line by his brother Wallace Roney – who was saddled even then with the title “the next Miles Davis” – and second-generation monster Ravi Coltrane. I distinctly remember listening to this disc and thinking, “I’m looking at the future here!” Not only has Antoine lived up to that disc’s promise by being one of the best sax players on the present menu, but he also may have created a gift for the future we’re facing now.

Put an explosive tenor player like Roney in a little black box like the Madison Theater’s performance space, and there’s literally no place to hide, for you or him. And Roney embraced that challenge right from the jump, presenting us with two sets of what I can only call “acoustic fusion.” We’re talking a boundary-breaking ferocity that wins hearts and minds even as it shatters paradigms and eardrums, and if it had been paired up with the kind of electric matrix associated with this manner of attack, tedium might have set in at the same time as tinnitus. But in the stripped-out configuration Roney brought to the Madison, the full glory of the Philadelphia native’s creative process came through in brilliant Technicolor, whether he was loving (and deconstructing) Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life,” closing out the night with a burning version of Eddie Harris’ “Listen Here” or simply firing sheets and sheets of expanding ideas out into the theater while his drummer’s titanic backing kicked the energy up notch by notch.

And let’s talk about that drummer for a minute. His name is Kojo Odu Roney, and he is a major devotee of drum icon Tony Williams – something you’d have been able to tell even if Kojo’s bright yellow kit wasn’t an exact replica of the one Williams used with Lifetime back in the day. We’re talking a simply relentless attack spurred on by the kind of energy most cities need to keep the lights on and the trains running. Along with his ability to bring the noise is a solid understanding of the kind of backing his partners need when they’re the ones that are taking the lead. Oh, one more thing: Kojo Odu Roney is Antoine’s son… and he is 12 years old. His head almost comes up to my belt buckle, and if you’d seen him playing with a friend of his during intermission and hadn’t caught the first set, you’d have no way of knowing he was the engine that powered the band for the first 45 minutes of the evening.

Now, I shudder to use the term “prodigy,” if only because that term seems to have been captured by 12-year old piano phenom Joey Alexander. It’s also a term that’s ridiculously hard to shake off. Just ask Julian Lage and Christopher Hollyday: Lage has only come into his own in the last few years; Hollyday never got free of that term, which may explain why he’s been off the radar for years now. But where Alexander gives off all the signs of your classic “jerd” (aka “jazz nerd”), Kojo just seems like a regular kid who also happens to make a drum kit light up like the Bellagio on a Fight Night. Along with the musical heritage in his DNA, he’s also receiving instruction from towering jazz elders like Al Foster and Louis Hayes. This may explain the strong sense of control and possession Kojo displays. He may love to smash and crash, but he never did anything that didn’t fit the moment at hand.

While it was great to watch father and son play together, my favorite moments were when Kojo was working with keyboardist Greg Lewis. It had actually been Kojo’s idea to add Lewis’ Hammond B3 to the mix, and that instinct worked out sensationally, because the results were literally off the scale: If the sound tech had put Lewis’ B3 at the same level as all the other instruments, you would have heard him in Cohoes, and the Madison wouldn’t have a roof any more. Lewis’ lines matched Antoine’s for both intensity and creativity, and he had several audience members hoping the Madison would bring Lewis back – preferably with his renowned Organ Monk unit, with which he’s recorded three discs.

Someone else who’s recorded as a leader is bassist Marcos Varela, whose Origin disc San Ygnacio features heavyweights like Billy Hart, George Cables and Logan Richardson. Given the musical weight his partners were throwing down, you’d think playing upright bass on this date would be a thankless job, but Varela’s foundation work was rock steady, and when the band backed off to let Varela show off his own voice, he responded with outstanding lyrics and a fat, tasty tone.

At the end of last year, I named the Madison Theater as the best concert space for jazz in 2015. The Madison’s not just about jazz, as they’ve brought in heavy people from all genres since the start of the year. But the current series of jazz concerts the Madison is mounting shows a sincere desire to expand the musical conversation beyond the tried and true, and the Antoine Roney Quartet got that conversation off to a flying start. Not only that, but depending how Kojo Roney handles teenagerdom (and vice versa), we may have gotten a glimpse of the future in the bargain. - Daily Gazzette

"“Conservatory Without Walls” on May 13 Celebrates Ellington Jazz Series"

“Conservatory Without Walls” on May 13 Celebrates Ellington Jazz Series
Pairing documentary film with an exciting live performance, the event pays homage to the series' history
May 2, 2016

Pictured: Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, and Willie Ruff

The Ellington Jazz Series at the Yale School of Music pays homage to its history on Friday, May 13 with an event titled “Conservatory Without Walls.” The event, which takes place at 7:30pm in Morse Recital Hall, pairs documentary film with an exciting live performance.

The first half of the event presents the film Conservatory Without Walls, a documentary originally created by WTIC Hartford about the eponymous event that Willie Ruff organized at Yale in 1972. That convocation of forty jazz legends directly led to the founding of the Ellington Jazz Series.

The 40-minute video, preserved by the Yale Film Study Center, includes interviews with figures such as Dizzy Gillespie and archival material of Duke Ellington — including clips of Willie Ruff playing bass with Ellington at the piano.

After intermission, eleven-year-old drum prodigy Kojo Odu Roney takes the stage with the Antoine Roney Trio: saxophonist Antoine Roney (Kojo’s father), guitarist Billy “Spaceman” Patterson, and bassist Rashaan Carter.

Willie Ruff, YSM faculty and the artistic director of the Ellington Jazz Series and the curator of this event, sees this evening in two lights: simultaneously portraying the legends of decades past, and introducing a young legend in the making, young drummer Kojo Odu Roney. This will be the last event of the 2015–2016 Ellington Jazz Series.

Tickets to this extraordinary event are only $10, $5 with student ID, and can be purchased from the Yale School of Music box office (470 College Street, New Haven), by phone at 203 432-4158, and online. - Yale School of Music "Willie Ruff"

"Interview: Antoine Roney"

Antoine Roney
Jazz Improv Magazine Eric Nemeyer

JI: What recording or recordings initially sparked your interest in jazz, and inspired your desire to per- form and or compose?

AR: There’s not a specific recording that sparked my interest in jazz because I grew up in jazz. I grew up in Philadelphia and Philly supports the arts very well. A lot of great artist came from Philly or lived there over the years. People like Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Gerry Mulligan, Philly Joe Jones, Bessie Smith, Bud and Richie Powell, McCoy Tyner, Rashied Ali, Sonny Murray, e Heath Brothers just to name a few! Benny Golson, Lee Morgan, Johnny Coles, Stan Getz, e Brecker Brothers, Jaco Pastorius, Wallace Roney — not to mention the local greats like Jimmy Oliver, Trudy Pitts, Bootsie Barns and Mr. C. There’s a serious bass tradition coming out of Philly too, like Jimmy Merit, Jimmy Garrison, Spanky Debrest, and Stanley Clark. I’m starting to feel bad because I can’t mention everyone in this article but nonetheless; Philadelphia has one of the strongest music traditions in this country. These are the people that inspired me to love music. e jazz musicians were like super heroes in my household. It seems like people really admired and supported artists in the 60’s. is was life before walkmans (which came out in the 80’s). e music during this period was more social; people got together to listen to music. If I wanted to hear a record everybody in the house would have to hear it with me. e radio was a strong part of our culture. In those days we heard more current recordings, inspired by those sounds we’d then go to the neighbor- hood record store and buy the recording. My brother, Wallace, who is older than me, broke a lot of ground and still is breaking ground. He’s always finding new areas to stretch music and he always kept the level of creativity advance. When we were younger, my brother hipped me to Coltrane live at the Birdland. It was perhaps this recording that changed my vision of what a saxophone could do! e sound was sonic and from that moment to now I have been trying to incorporate this sound in my musical ideas.

JI: Talk about the relevance of developing a healthy curiosity about ideas and people, in and out of music, to bolster your artistry.

AR: Music is a reaction of life. All of the experience of life is fuel for the imagination. I’ve traveled to different places around the world on my own, outside of musical tours. I’ve spent time in Central America and lived in Africa. When I go to places like that I spend time in nature not to just to enhance my music but to experience the culture, the environment, and the people and in turn these experiences open up my senses, shift's my perspective and allows me to under- stand the world in different ways. When I pick up my instrument a er these adventures, I can think on other emotional levels because I’ve developed other realities. Consciousness and unconsciousness — it’s these ‘separate realities’ that both generate a breadth of thoughts and feelings, ideas and perceptions that store knowledge and memory. I always say, “once you have heard something whether you like it or not, or believe it or not, it will live inside your thoughts for- ever.” Our minds grab everything we see, hear, smell and taste. Music is science and science is medicine
and in turn music lends itself to the state of healing... People can come to us and tell us their problem and we can play certain intervals to heal them. Why not, we listen to music to alter our emotions. Jackie Mclean took me under his “wing.” We would talk about music and musical personalities and how music affects the world and vice-versa. A few times we’d go into a park across the street from his house with our horns in hand. Everybody knew Jackie not just as a great musician but also as a person strong in the com- munity! Even the stray dogs and cats knew Jackie. He would feed the animals in the park and on the street he was also a person who pushed the limits of life so he had this great energy. On our walk through the park we would find a certain hill that you could see Hartford, Connecticut from. We’d play our saxophones on top of this hill and you could hear the echo bouncing o of the city and back to us on the hill. We would develop specific phrases that we felt would go out into the city and heal all drug addictions and/ or different illnesses and /or give certain signals to people. When the phrase came back.... We’d feel it had made its healing travels. e idea is that sounds and combinations of sounds will change the emotions. When a person hears something out of tune, it makes them feel awkward, it shifts their state of being and their state of awareness hence, music changes dimensions, realities and can cause us to re-live through memory... moments gone in time... a kind of teleportation. These are the kinds of things that are interesting to me and bolster my artistry.

I want to quote a very important friend of mine
that they then control so that they are able maintain their vitality and purpose.”
—John Turpin

JI: Could you discuss the relevance for you as an art- ist, to approach this music as a road to be traveled, with the opportunity for a lifetime of growth and learning, as opposed to a destination to be reached?

AR: I feel that music should provoke the spirit. It should challenge the spiritual imagination. It’s food for the soul. We study music to understand how to manipulate emotion. Say like, Charlie Parker would take a very familiar song and alter it. By altering the song you are altering the emotion especially to the ones who are familiar with the song. rough familiarity you gain trust. rough trust you can guide people to other worlds. is level of playing takes extensive study of many different worlds of music to understand why those sounds exist. en you can exist in that sound or transcend styles. When I lived in Ghana I would play with traditional musicians. I was playing creatively over their rhythms and songs. e more I played, it just went up in the air and was gone with the wind. en I learned one of their pieces, and they went crazy and then got into what I was doing. In turn I would show them spontaneous call and response. Traditional African music and dance is not abstract it recites language. e notes are not tones and pitches, as we know it but tones and pitches as language. Traditionally speaking African music is not interested in changing keys. e language will do that in itself and the rhythm never repeats because they’re not think- ing in patterns, they are reciting language from the beginning of time to today. What basically happens when I played with the traditional musicians was that I was speaking a language they didn’t understand. I had to nd a way of communicating. African music is pure language not music theory. If you trace the roots of jazz music and dance you will also nd language. ere was and still is a language in the jazz world we don’t acknowledge it in verbal language today al- though there are older rhythms we still play o of that do have names. Rhythm patterns like the Charleston or old blues quotes or little bebop phrases where jazz musicians use on “turnarounds.” These phrases are devices that work on any level because they have meaning. All the great musicians always kept this in their playing no matter how free or advance they graduated to. In more popular music that people dance to today, it still names the dance(s) that is created. Dances are usually based o the rhythm so they both would carry the same name. Somewhere along the line, dance and jazz music were separated. During World War II, clubs were taxed if dancing or singing was done, so the dance and jazz musical language separated and never socially recovered to this day.

JI: What are some of the challenges you face as an independent artist, and how do you envision making them work for you?

AR: My challenge as an artist is to be heard. Being an independent artist... I want to be heard the way I want to be heard! It appears that the industries judge people by the industry’s own expectations and not by an individual’s own quality or expertise. Younger people are coming on the scene with pretty good ideas but with not much quality experience. In turn the ideas are weak because it’s not passed through the hands nor challenged by the greats who preceded them. I call it passing the torch. Passing the torch has been the tradition of the quality in the music, all the way up until the 80’s. In the 80’s the younger musicians stopped working under the apprenticeship of a great musician before them. When you hear a person like [Wallace] my brother, you hear a solid musician be- cause he worked and learned something from most of the greats or people that worked with great innovators of this music. rough them he developed and brought his own ideas to a high level. I had a chance to work with great musicians also allowing me to raise the level of my music to a higher quality. One thing I noticed was that the older musicians would play hard for long periods of time. I experienced Elvin Jones’ greatness every time we played and he never gave up even when he was sick. He gave it his all — all the time. Playing with my brother I face the same challenge. A er he plays a solo, the level of the music would be so high, and I have to come behind him and contribute to that level of music he created on the bandstand. Today’s young leaders are not challenged to create quality music and don’t care to be challenged, which is a bit scary to me. I come from the school of thought where “passing the torch” put me in the line of intense studying and experiencing mu- sic on high levels, weather it’s my brother, Elvin Jones or going to Africa and living in the bush. I’m striving to complete my projects so that it will be in the world of historical jazz music [of this time]. Every recording that is done represents the time it was recorded in. So in 100 years or more people can go back to hear what was going on in that time.

JI: How have you strive to develop your own voice?

AR: Everybody naturally has his or her own voice. While studying you have to imitate to understand how things work. The more you study you and things that enhance your own personality. It’s like a baby. A baby first imitates it’s parents or the people around them. Once they figure out communication they put together their own ideas. I don’t think people should worry about finding their own voice. It will naturally happen if you don’t stop and get comfortable with one thing. From the beginning I had an idea of music that was my own but I didn’t know this until I got to a point then looked back and said oh that is what I was thinking or hearing. I use to look for recordings to fulfill my thirst and one day I realized that the recording didn’t exist. This is where I have to start. I’m inspired by cultures of the past. I lived In Ghana and the traditional music and dance carries the same spiritual element as jazz music. The way we use drums and rhythms is the same. Traditional music from almost any old culture has an element of freedom or the feeling of free expression. When you hear jazz music at it’s highest level of creativity, blends right in with traditional music level of spirit.

JI: How if at all do the pressures of talent buyers, peers and the marketplace affect your music or creativity?

AR: The way it affects my music and creation is the speed of the development. Everything I do I have to do myself with my own money. I also have to inspire my- self because what I’m doing goes against the grain of the industry but I have to fulfill my own imagination.

JI: Could you talk about some experience that you have had that has helped you become more sensitive to others and has correspondingly contributed to your artistic growth?

AR: When one of my daughters was about one years old, she would come in my music room to mess with my tape recorder. She would watch me turn the recorder on and o a er recording a rehearsal and studying the music. Because she was so young I kept stopping her in fear that she would break the recorder. Her persistence allowed me to let her go to see what she was trying to do. She was trying to push the play button so I push play for her. When she heard the song she would sing the arrangement of the song with the recording. I didn’t believe she understood what she wanted to do because she was a baby. She knew exactly what she wanted to do. She taught me a lesson — that people think advanced at every age.
We are taught to look down on other people not al- lowing them an opportunity to do what they can do best (be themselves). For example when people travel to the United States from other countries that are not respected and can’t speak English clear enough to understand. ere are people that would think they are uneducated and treat them in such a way. This type of arrogance manages to expand our ignorance. I always strive to be sensitive because everyone’s experience is their own and I really don’t want to crush anyone’s individual idea. It can be a little selfish. We have the right to be creative. That is what we are made of and if we don’t get a chance to be creative then we deprive ourselves from our self. That is why teaching can be misguiding. Teaching is a good thing; it’s the method of teaching that can put people in a box.

JI: If you could magically get your wish in the next three years, what goal — action or event — would you hope to accomplish.

AR: I can’t think in terms of magic wishes other than getting something without working for it. My goal is always to play the saxophone better and to create new music. In three years I want to be three years better of a saxophonist, and I would like to have created as much music for that period of time as I can. I’m going back to Africa and I want to finish up some projects. To complete something is powerful in itself. I guess we call this accomplishment. I would love to perform with the African projects. I have visions of music and my life commitment is to make them a reality. I’m not driven for fame, although I would love to be appreciated or touch people. I have a family so monetary wealth is always the dream. You don’t need a family for that dream but it could take a certain stress off a family. Spiritual wealth is another goal but that is a personal goal, which you would only know if you reached it. Guiding young people is always positive. Teaching young people about their own creativity is very powerful along with understanding discipline so that they won’t be out of control.

JI: What is it that you have you observed that performances and inspires audiences about your music?

AR: I think the spiritual involvement as well as the mystical nature of where the music is going to go can be attractive. When playing I put myself on a journey through dimensions of spirits. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a time zone and sometimes I feel like I’m in a spiritual prism. I’m always striving to provoke spiritual emotions within the music. Sometimes the emotional side of the music can be a little overwhelming. As far as I go into the spirit I have to come back. I can’t go too far because it will take me a long time to get back. The listener always detects honesty in the music in addition to honesty to the music.

JI: We all love to get compliments for what we do well. How do you take responsibility for what doesn’t work, and how do you make changes or turn things around. Could you cite an example?

AR: I think everything works. We just have to accept the fact that we are not in complete control. We practice to have as much control as we can to make what is in our minds possible but when we get on the bandstand other thoughts and ideas come in to play, so the plan can change in a split second. If certain things don’t work, then that is what it will be. It would only not work to the person creating — but to the listener or the ones that are witnessing the event, it would be involved in the experience. My brother told me “once it comes out of your instrument it no longer belongs to you”. I think that is a philosophy for life. You make mistakes in life but once you do it it’s done and we strive to shape those experiences for the future. We are made up of agreeable and disagree- able however, one cannot exist without the other, so together you have a complete view. I think it’s how you recover from a situation, which can become a masterful thing! I was on the bandstand with Elvin Jones and he was taking an incredible solo. While he was soloing I felt he forgot what tune we were playing. He went to a cadence to bring in another tune and we jumped right in with that tune. I don’t think he realized what he did, maybe he did, but it was incredible because it was unexpected.

JI: What are the benefits and drawbacks of being an independent artist?

AR: The benefits are being able to do what you please and the drawbacks are competing with the industry. It seems that the average person trusts the industry more that the artist.

JI: Tell us about your activities outside of music.

AR: Most of my activities are musical or I make it musical because I think music most of the time. My language is music! - Jazz improv Magazine Eric Nemeyer


Antoine Roney as a Leader:

Antoine Roney Bands

The Traveler (Muse/HighNote)

Whirling (Muse/HighNote) 

Marley Sessions (Enoit Music)

Antoine Roney Trio (Enoit Music)

Antoine Roney Trio Live in Seneca Village - Controlling the Uncontrollable  (Enoit Music)                                                     

Antoine Roney as Music Producer for Film:
Love Jones 1997 (Film)

“Bringing in da Spirit” (Documentary)

Paris is in Harlem (Film)

Antoine Roney as a Co-Leader:

w/Ravi Coltrane: Sax Storm,Tenor Titian (Alfa)
W/Daniel Moreno Duo

Antoine Roney As a Sideman:

Lenny White: Tribute to Earth Wind & Fire, East Saint Louis (HipBop)

Jesse Davis: Horns of Passion (Concord)

Ricky Ford: Tenor Madness (Muse)

Cody Moffet: Evidence (Telarc)

Vanessa Parradise: Parradis Virgin (Lenny Kravitz)

Cindy Blackman: Telepathy (Muse)

Jacky Terreson: What’s New (Evidence)

Sarah Morrow: Green Light (Evidence)

Carlos Mckinney: Up Front (Sirocco jazz LTD)

Trisch Tahara: Secrets (Muse)

Tribute to Miles Davis: Endless Miles (N2K)

Elvin Jones:
Truth Heard Live at The Blue Note (Halfnote)

Micheal Carvin: 

Each One Teach One (Muse) 

Lost and Found 2065 (Life Force Jazz)

Aruan Ortiz: Alameda (New Talent)

Alphonse Mouzon: Angel Face (Tenacious)

Wallace Roney: 

Mistérios (Warner Bros.)

Wallace Roney Quintet (Warner Bros.) 

Village (Warner Bro)

No Room For Argument (Warner Bros.) 

Seth Air (Muse)

Prototype (HighNote)

Mystical (HighNote)

No Room For Argument (Stretch)

If Only for One Night (HighNote)

Jazz (HighNote Records)

Home (HighNote)



Antoine Roney is thee top Tenor Man on the scene today.

For nearly four decades, he has shared the stage, studio, and space with Jazz Royalty.

His musical journey has brought him from his native Philadelphia to tour the world. In addition to playing alongside his late brother, Wallace – recording nine albums with him, Antoine has worked with the Greats: Elvin Jones, Jackie McLean, Donald Byrd, Art Taylor, Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Jordan, Big John Patton, James Spaulding, Ronnie Matthews, Louis Hayes, Rashied Ali and many more.

Firmly grounded in the foundations of bebop and hard bop, Antoine has found his voice in the minimalist Sax Trio format: an intimate setting that allows for endless freedom of expression, the flow of ideas, and musical development…all in keeping true to the idiom. With his son Kojo on drums, the group has crafted its own sound, swing, and space. Spiritually driven and keenly attuned to his Native American Indian roots. 

Antoine has also spent time with the group traveling around Ghana absorbing the sights, sounds, and smells of the West African nation’s unique musical buzz: from vibrant local markets to dusty country roads ( Drawing inspiration, energy, and spiritual nourishment from the desert, Antoine put together a film short ( featuring his concept against a backdrop of the flowing white sands of New Mexico and his own intermittent spoken word narration.

Depth, tact, class, sound, space, and energy…his mastery of the instrument transcends musical boundaries, structures, and technique. One with his art form, Antoine Roney brings clarity, simplicity, direction, and purity to a polluted world in danger of losing itself in itself.

Experience Antoine Roney's journey; travel with him towards the good.

Antoine worked with jazz greats such as Donald Byrd, Jackie McLean, Clifford Jordan, Ted Curson, John Patton, Rashied Ali, Arthur Taylor, Jesse Davis, Ravi Coltrane, Michael Carvin, Wallace Roney, Cindy Blackman, Freddie Hubbard, Geri Allen, Chick Corea, and Elvin Jones and has released 5 recordings as a leader. He is currently a member of “The Electric Miles Band” Co-Lead by Miles Davis Alum (Vince Wilburn Jr, Darrell Jones, and Robert Babe Irving III. He is also working with Will Calhoun (Living Color) Elvin Jones Project.

He also works and tours with recent Duo, Trio, and Quartet projects of his own. Some of his recent works are using Guitarist William “Spaceman” Patterson, Organist Greg Lewis, and his Prodigy son Kojo Roney. The Collaboration with these guys is very creative and explosive! With many different elements of music!!

Band Members