R.I.P. Sandy Anderson, Wallace Roney

Unlimited Touch

Ever wondered at that miraculous bass on Odyssey’s “Inside Out” from 1982? Sandy Anderson, member of the New York based post disco group Unlimited Touch, succumbed to the Corona virus. Unlimited Touch, formed by Raymond Reid and William Anderson of Crown Heights Affair, recorded only two LPs: “Unlimited Touch” in 1980 and “Yes, We’re Ready” in 1983. Members of the group were also Audrey Wheeler, Phil Hamilton, Tony Cintron, Stephanie James, and Lenny Underwood. Samuel “Sandy” Anderson III played bass in the group which broke up in 1981 and reformed in 1983 with just Sandy, Audrey and Stephanie. His bass was prominent throughout each track. Just listen to “Private Party” or “Feel The Music” and enjoy the phat grooves and bass lines. But it was “I Hear Music In The Streets” which was their most popular track, and once again, it seems that the bass is leading the proceedings of this still phenomenal soul/disco classic which has a certain resemblance to the best Chic songs of the period, combined with the melodies of the finest Change cuts. The song that I recorded onto a yellow Agfa cassette on my recorder back in the days was “Searching To Find The One”, another brilliant soul/funk groover with a chunking bass. By the way, the other bassists on that Odyssey LP were Marcus Miller, Bernard Edwards, and T.M. Stevens. That’s the league Sandy was a part of.

Wallace Roney

Wallace Roney died yesterday at age 59, also of complications from this awful virus. Wallace performed with Miles Davis at the 1991 Montreux Jazz Festival (proud and lucky that I was there in attendance). Quincy Jones produced it and made arrangements for “Sketches Of Spain” and “Porgy & Bess”. That was the pivotal moment in Wallace’s career, to be lauded and praised by his idol and mentor. Wallace recorded over 20 albums, most of them for the New York-based indie HighNote Records since 2004 and its predecessor Muse Records from his debut in 1987 up until 1993. His most recent, the wonderful “Blue Dawn – Blue Nights” (2019) shows his immensely uncompromised tone. His phrasing much darker than that of Miles, I think his overall approach to music was unparalleled. From his role as a founding member of drummer Tony Williams’ bop quintet to his regular performances at New York’s now defunct Fat Tuesday’s, there was always this very lyrical stance in his playing, even when he applied some hip-hop to his music or covered Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”. I came across an interview with Wallace and JazzTimes magazine, published in the September 2004 number where he takes on the issue of mixing genres and trying to play modern jazz in nondescript ways which I think also sums up his own artistry:

“I don’t appreciate journalism that trivializes when musicians are trying to push the envelope. Man, it takes a lot of knowledge to know how to open that door, to get that type of freedom within the form, to be able to take a chord and make that chord go anywhere you want. The reason John Coltrane played the way he played was because forms were nothing anymore. But they were everything. He could take “Body And Soul” and manipulate the bass notes and play “Giant Steps” anyway. Then he got past that, where he could reduce it down to one chord and get the whole cycle in. Then he got to the point where you didn’t know whether he was playing “Resolution” or “Bye Bye Blackbird”, because what he was trying to say was the most important thing. But he could’ve been playing “Bye Bye Blackbird” on “Resolution”. He knew how to make it do what he wanted it to do. That’s what people need to respect, not the licks.”

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