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For over 25 years, pianist CEDAR WALTON has enjoyed an uptempo career, which never seems to slow down. Maintaining a non-stop itinerary, Walton has accompanied a litany of jazz greats while also fronting his own successful groups. Born January 17, 1934 in Dallas, Texas, Walton set his sights on a career in music at an early age. An after-hours gig at the Denver Club introduced him to notable musicians like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and John Coltrane, who would sit in with Walton's group when they passed through town.
Walton ventured to New York and began to work locally with Lou Donaldson, Gigi Gryce, Sonny Rollins, and Kenny Dorham before landing his first touring job with J.J. Johnson. Soon after, the pianist made his recording debut backing Kenny Dorham. He also made two records with J.J. Johnson's group before joining the Art Farmer/Benny Golson Jazztet. Walton's next major musical association was with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. During his three years tenure with Blakey, Walton stepped forward as a composer, contributing originals like Mosaic and The Promised Land to the group's recordings.
His debut recording as a leader came in 1966 with the release of Cedar on Prestige Records. From the late sixties to early seventies, Walton kept steady company with bassist Sam Jones and drummers Louis Hayes and Billy Higgins in multi-purpose trios that occasionally annexed saxophonists Clifford Jordan, George Coleman, or Bob Berg for specific tours and albums.
In 1981, he formed a trio with Ron Carter and Billy Higgins, which clicked right from the start. Around the same time, Walton became part of the Timeless All-stars, a sextet also featuring Harold Land, Bobby Hutcherson, Curtis Fuller, Buster Williams, and Billy Higgins. Walton also ignited rhythm sections behind the likes of Milt Jackson, Frank Morgan, Dexter Gordon, and vocalists Ernestine Anderson and Freddy Cole, and held the piano chair of The Trumpet Summit Band.
Walton's efforts have been well documented on record. In addition to a host of dates as a sideman, the pianist has been recording with his own groups at a prolific rate, as evidenced by an assortment of albums on many record labels.
Cedar Walton is one of the most influential musicians active today. His original compositions like "Bolivia," "Clockwise," and "Firm Roots" are frequently recorded by other musicians, and have become part of the standard jazz repertoire. His playing regularly receives praise from critics, fellow jazz musicians, and audience around the world.