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Cedar Walton
Cedar Walton  Biography
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Cedar Walton, born 1/17/34, started gigging around his native Dallas in high school, playing with rhythm and blues bands. He came to New York in 1955 but was drafted and spent the next three years in the Army, playing with such musicians as Don Ellis and Leo Wright. When he returned to the Jazz Mecca, he began working with Lou Donaldson, Gigi Gryce, Sonny Rollins and Kenny Dorham before landing his first touring job with J.J. Johnson.

Cedar joined Art Blakey in 1961, and remained a Jazz Messenger until 1964. This was perhaps Blakey's most influential group, with Freddie Hubbard and Wayne Shorter. Walton served time as Abbey Lincoln's accompanist from 1965-66 and made records with Lee Morgan from 1966-68; from 1967-69, Walton served as a sideman on many Prestige albums as well.

Cedar Walton's own band of the period was Eastern Rebellion, which featured a rotating cast of saxophonists Clifford Jordan, George Coleman and Bob Berg, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Billy Higgins. Today, Cedar leads one of the preeminent active trios, with bassist David Williams and drummer Billy Higgins.

One of the most valued of all hard bop accompanists, Cedar Walton is a versatile pianist whose funky touch and cogent melodic sense has graced the recordings of many of Jazz's greatest players. He is also one of the music's more underrated composers; although he has always been a first-rate interpreter of standards, Walton wrote a number of excellent tunes ("Mosaic," "Ugetsu," and "Bolivia," to name a few) that found their way into Art Blakey's book during his early-'60s stint with the Jazz Messengers.

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