Tuesday, August 20, 2013

R.I.P.: Cedar Walton

R.I.P.: Cedar Walton
(January 17, 1934 – August 19, 2013)

Fourteen days after George Duke passed away, we now lost another great pianist, Cedar Walton. Besides his many solo albums ("Animation" being a personal favorite, because he plays a lot of Fender Rhodes backed by a great combo that includes Tony Dumas, Al Foster, Buddy Williams Paulinho da Costa, Bob Berg & Steve Turre), I'll treasure forever his many sidemen dates; specially, Art Farmer's "Live in Tokyo" (released only in Japan by CTI), Milt Jackson's "Olinga" and Milt Jackson/Hubert Laws' "Goodbye" (playing Rhodes exclusively on both sessions), and two splendid LaserDiscs reissued on DVD: Freddie Hubbard's "Live at Village Vanguard" with Ron Carter and Lenny White completing the quartet, and Ron Carter/Art Farmer's "Live at Sweet Basil" with Billy Higgins.

Not to mention his impeccable work also with Abbey Lincoln, Donald Byrd, Joe Henderson, Curtis Fuller, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Jimmy McGriff, Stanley Turrentine, Houston Person, Art Blakey, Clifford Jordan, Blue Mitchell, Ray Brown, Bobby Hutcherson, Billy Higgins, Hank Mobley, David "Fathead" Newman, Lee Morgan, Pat Martino, Frank Morgan, Ron Carter, Jimmy Heath, Etta James, Benny Golson, the now long-forgotten Japanese supersinger Kimiko Kasai, and dozens of others.

Most recently, the Switzerland-based American songstress Sandy Patton (one of the best jazz vocalists in the contemporary jazz scene) released a CD titled "A Family Affair," devoted to Cedar Walton's compositions, most of them heard with lyrics for the very first time. An essential item to all Cedar's fans.
Goodbye, Cedar Walton.
Jazz pianist Cedar Walton dead at 79 - chicagotribune.com
Jazz Pianist Cedar Walton Dies
by Mark Memmott - August 19, 2013 9:44 AM

Cedar Walton, a National Endowment for the Arts "jazz master" known as "one of the great hard bop pianists," died early Monday at his home in Brooklyn, NY, according to WBGO's The Checkout. He was 79.

Walton was first taught piano by his mother, and, after high school, moved to Colorado to commence studies at the University of Denver. There, during afterhours jazz club gigs, he met musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and John Coltrane, who would sit in with Walton's group when traveling through town. ...

In 1959, he recorded with Coltrane on his seminal album Giant Steps, but the recordings weren't included on the initial issue of the album; the alternate tracks were later issued on the CD version. From 1960-61, Walton worked with Art Farmer and Benny Golson's band Jazztet.

Walton's next significant musical association was with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. During his years with Blakey (1961-64), Walton stepped forward as composer, contributing originals such as "Mosaic," "Ugetsu," and "The Promised Land" to the group's repertoire.

In 1974, Walton joined with bassist Sam Jones, drummer Billy Higgins, and saxophonist Clifford Jordan to form the group Eastern Rebellion, which would perform and record sporadically over the subsequent two decades. Other musicians rotated in and out of the band, including George Coleman, Bob Berg, Ralph Moore, David Williams, Curtis Fuller, and Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros.

In addition, he continued to perform in rhythm sections for Milt Jackson, Frank Morgan, and Dexter Gordon and accompanied vocalists Ernestine Anderson and Freddy Cole. He also led the backup trio for the Trumpet Summit Band, which started as a project for the 1995 Jazz in Marciac festival in France.

In February 2010, Walton performed at NPR's "Piano Jazz." Listen to it by visiting the NPR site through the above link. 

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