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Antoine Roney

Greg Lewis

Marco Valera

Kojo Roney

Photos by Albert Brooks

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The Madison Theater
Albany, NY
March 12, 2016

by Joe Major

The Antoine Roney Quartet launched the Madison Jazz Series Saturday night with a concert at once contemplative and surging.

Dedicated jazz followers were witness to a program of originals in which Mr. Roney’s tenor moaned plaintively in search of the jaunty, emphatic punctuation that would eventually resolve most of the numbers. Riveted to his pronouncements was the ample dynamism of Greg Lewis’ Hammond B3 organ, utterly defining a sense of swirling, ever-ratcheting, serious commitment to motif. Marcos Varela’s articulate bass supported the ensemble with its own narrative arc, contributing a tangy, resonant voice amidst the often frenetic front line. Woven into the entire fabric was the prodigious, atmospheric splash of 11-year old drummer Kojo Roney. Roney-the-younger was particularly adept at drenching the high-octane pieces with blistering snare work.

The horn-centric, edge-of-electronica focus of this team was flush with a texture of grit, groove and epiphany. During its two-set performance this entire outfit reved along determinedly, its ultimate destination clearly located further along the distant, spacier off-ramps of the venerable soul jazz highway.

The Madison Theater hopes to tap into an audience pool long famous for its devotion to individual artists as well as the varied tributaries of the jazz genre in toto. Madison should process this inaugural as an auspicious programming count-off, right on the beat, right on tempo. Dedicated jazz hounds will ferret out, will travel, and, not incidentally, will spread the word.

Joe Major is an inveterate jazz pilgrim for whom the holy grail is always the evocative communion of impression meeting expression. Living over the border in Williamstown, MA, for thirty-plus years, he’s been the grateful beneficiary of countless Williams College performances that have arranged themselves on his ever shifting life list.