Jim Walker (flautist)
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James Walker is an American flutist and educator. He is 72 years old (as of January 2017). He is the former Principal Flute of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the founder of the jazz quartet Free Flight. Since 1984, he has focused most of his attention on jazz performance and flute pedagogy.
He attended the University of Louisville, where he graduated with honors.
After graduation, Walker joined the United States Military Academy Band at West Point; at the same time, he studied flute with Harold Bennett, principal flutist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Other significant teachers have been Sarah Fouse, Francis Fuge, James Pellerite, and Claude Monteux.
In 1969, he joined the Pittsburgh Symphony as associate principal flutist. After eight years in Pittsburgh, Zubin Mehta appointed him as principal flutist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a position he held from 1977 until 1984. He also played principal flute for the New York Philharmonic (under Mehta) for that orchestra's 1982 South American tour.
In 1980, Walker organized a jazz quartet featuring flute, piano, bass and drums. This group later become known as Free Flight. In 1984, he left the Los Angeles Philharmonic to concentrate on his work with the quartet and to do freelance work in Southern California and beyond. "After 15 years as a classical player, it was enough", Walker said in 1987. "In the beginning, I felt I was playing honest, wonderfully inspiring music. But after hundreds of repetitions, it wasn't so inspiring."
He has collaborated with many other flutists including James Galway and Jean-Pierre Rampal, and has also worked with other well-known musicians including Wayne Shorter, Leonard Bernstein, Dudley Moore and many others in concert and recordings.
He has conducted flute master classes and clinics in the U.S., Canada, Europe, South America, Korea, Japan and Russia.
His discography includes The Jazz/Classical Union, Soaring", Beyond the Clouds, Illumination, Slice of Life, Private Flight, Reflections, Walker & Garson Play Gershwin, Music for Flute and Piano, Flight of the Dove, and Tranquility.
Walker appeared with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet on their first CD for the TELARC, featured on a new composition entitled "SZSYGY". He also guested with the Quartet on their Sony CD LAGQ, performing on Chick Correa's "Spain". He joined Scott Tennant on his Wild Mountain CD, performing Ian Krouse's "Da Chara".
Recent Free Flight recordings are Free Flight 2000 and The Best of Free Flight on Warner Bros. Publication. Two additional CDs are available as part of the Yamaha Disklavier catalog: Free Flight 2004 and A Free Flight Christmas.
Walker's solos can also be heard in many movie soundtracks, including Memoirs of a Geisha, A Beautiful Mind, Amistad, Ice Age, Seven Years in Tibet, Titanic, Nell, Monsters Inc., Two If By Sea, The River, A River Runs Through It, Nijinsky, and Far & Away.
He is one of four performing artists (with Wynton Marsalis, James Galway and Eddie Daniels) to be named as members of the Board of Advisors for "Smartmusic", a remarkable computer program which provides accompaniments for most of the standard flute solo repertoire and many jazz play-a-long tracks from both Aebersold and Alfred jazz series.
Walker is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Flute Association. He has played Yamaha flutes exclusively since 1980 and is a Yamaha Performing Artist. He performs numerous concerts and clinics as a direct result of their sponsorship.
He was given the "Distinguished Alumni Award" from the University of Louisville, and was named the first "Alumni Fellow" from the university's School of Music.
Walker recently made his debut at the Western International Band Clinic in Seattle, Washington, where he appeared as guest soloist with the Phoenix and Thunderbird honor bands.
- "About Jim Walker". Jim Walker Online. Retrieved 2008-01-07.
- Stewart, Zan (January 7, 1987). "FLUTIST ENJOYS HIS SOLO JAZZ FLIGHT". Los Angeles Times.