Cedar Walton

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Cedar Walton
Cedar Walton Dachau 2001.JPG
Background information
Birth name Cedar Anthony Walton, Jr.
Born January 17, 1934
Dallas, Texas, United States
Died August 19, 2013(2013-08-19) (aged 79)
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Piano

Cedar Anthony Walton, Jr. (January 17, 1934 – August 19, 2013) was an American hard bop jazz pianist. He came to prominence as a member of drummer Art Blakey's band before establishing a long career as a bandleader and composer. Several of his compositions have become jazz standards, including "Mosaic", "Bolivia", "Holy Land," "Mode for Joe" and "Ugetsu", also known as "Fantasy in D".[1]

Biography[edit]

Walton was born and grew up in Dallas, Texas.[2] His mother Ruth was an aspiring concert pianist, and was Walton's initial teacher.[3] She also took him to jazz performances around Dallas. Walton cited Nat King Cole, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Art Tatum as his major influences on piano.[4] He began emulating recordings of these artists from an early age.

After briefly attending Dillard University in New Orleans,[2] he went to the University of Denver as a composition major originally, but was encouraged to switch to a music education program targeted to set up a career in the local public school system. This switch later proved extremely useful since Walton learned to play and arrange for various instruments, a talent he would hone with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.

Walton was tempted by the promise of New York City through his associations with John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Richie Powell, whom he met at various after-hours sessions around the city of Denver, Colorado. In 1955, he decided to leave school and drove with a friend to New York City. He quickly got recognition from Johnny Garry, who ran Birdland at that time.

Walton was drafted into the U.S. Army, and stationed in Germany, cutting short his rising status in the after-hours scene. While in the Army, he played with musicians Leo Wright, Don Ellis, and Eddie Harris. Upon his discharge after two years, Walton picked up where he left off, playing as a sideman with Kenny Dorham (on whose 1958 album This Is the Moment! Walton made his recording debut),[5] J. J. Johnson, and with Gigi Gryce.[6] Joining the Jazztet, led by Benny Golson and Art Farmer, Walton played with this group from 1958 to 1961. In April 1959, he recorded an alternate take of "Giant Steps" with John Coltrane, though he did not solo.

In the early 1960s, Walton joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers as a pianist-arranger for three years, on the same day as Freddie Hubbard. In this group, which also featured Wayne Shorter, he demonstrated a keen sense of arranging in originals such as "Ugetsu" and "Mosaic". He left the Messengers in 1964 and by the late 1960s was part of the house rhythm section at Prestige Records, where in addition to releasing his own recordings, he recorded with Sonny Criss, Pat Martino, Eric Kloss, and Charles McPherson. For a year, he served as Abbey Lincoln's accompanist, and recorded with Lee Morgan from 1966 to 1968. During the mid-1970s, he led the funk group Mobius.[6]

Many of Walton's compositions have been adopted as jazz standards, including "Firm Roots", "Bolivia", "Holy Land," "Mode for Joe" and "Cedar's Blues". "Bolivia" is perhaps his best-known composition, while one of his oldest is "Fantasy in D", recorded under the title "Ugetsu" by Art Blakey in 1963.[7]

In January 2010, Walton was inducted as a member of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters.[8]

After a brief illness, Walton died on August 19, 2013, at his home in Brooklyn, New York, at the age of 79.[9]

Discography[edit]

As leader[edit]

With Eastern Rebellion

  • 1975: Eastern Rebellion, Vol. 1 (Timeless Muse)
  • 1977: Eastern Rebellion, Vol. 2 (Timeless Muse)
  • 1990: Mosaic (Musicmasters)
  • 1992: Simple Pleasure (Musicmasters)
  • 1994: Just One of Those... Nights At The Village Vanguard (Musicmasters)

With Timeless All Stars

  • 1982: It's Timelss (Timeless)
  • 1983: Timeless Heart (Timeless)
  • 1986: Essence (Delos)
  • 1991: Time For The Timeless All Stars (Early Bird Records)

As sideman[edit]

With Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt

With Art Blakey

With Donald Byrd

With Ornette Coleman

With John Coltrane

With Sonny Criss

With Kenny Dorham

With Kenny Dorham and Cannonball Adderley

With Teddy Edwards

With Art Farmer

With Curtis Fuller

With Benny Golson

With Dexter Gordon

With Steve Grossman

  • Love is the Thing (Red Record, 1985)

With Eddie Harris

With Jimmy Heath

With Joe Henderson

With Billy Higgins

With Freddie Hubbard

With Bobby Hutcherson

With Milt Jackson

With The Jazztet (Art Farmer and Benny Golson)

With J. J. Johnson

With Sam Jones

With Clifford Jordan

With Eric Kloss

With Abbey Lincoln

With Pat Martino

With Christian McBride

With Charles McPherson

With Frank Morgan

  • Easy Living (Contemporary, 1985)
  • Lament (Contemporary, 1986)
  • Bebop Lives! (Contemporary, 1986)
  • Love, Lost and Found (Telarc, 1995)

With Lee Morgan

With Blue Mitchell

With Houston Person

With Sonny Red

With Stanley Turrentine

With Woody Shaw

References[edit]

  1. ^ William Yardley, "Cedar Walton, Pianist and Composer, Dies at 79", The New York Times, August 20, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Pianist-Composer Cedar Walton Dies at Age 79", DownBeat, August 20, 2013.
  3. ^ John Fordham, "Cedar Walton obituary", Guardian, August 23, 2013.
  4. ^ Deardra Shuler, "Cedar Walton and Barry Harris to play Jazz at Lincoln Center", New York Amsterdam News, June 20, 2013.
  5. ^ "Cedar Walton" (obituary), The Telegraph, August 20, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Cedar Walton page at Last.fm.
  7. ^ Bailey, Phil (1985), Volume 35 - Cedar Walton, Jamey Aebersold, 1985.
  8. ^ Lifetime Honors, National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters.
  9. ^ Mark Memmott, "Jazz Pianist Cedar Walton Dies", NPR, August 19, 2013.

External links[edit]