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 the Timeless, Discovery, Red Baron and Steeple Chase record labels.
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. Cedar Walton has emerged as a true master of the music he loves.
Cedar Walton was born and grew up in Dallas, Texas. His mother Ruth was an aspiring concert pianist, and was Walton's initial teacher. 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. He began emulating recordings of these artists from an early age.
After briefly attending Dillard University in New Orleans, 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), J. J. Johnson, and with Gigi Gryce. 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.
Freddie Hubbard : flh
Cedar Walton : p
David Williams : b
Billy Higgins : ds
Mt. Fuji Jazz Festival with Blue Note.