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Cedar Walton

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Dallas, United States (1934 – 2013)

Cedar Anthony Walton, Jr. (January 17, 1934 - August 19, 2013) was an American pianist.

Walton grew up in Dallas, Texas, also home to jazz luminaries such as Charlie Christian and Red Garland. After attending the University of Denver, Walton moved to New York in 1955. After a two year stint in the army in which he performed in a jazz ensemble, he joined Kenny Dorham’s band. By the late 1950s Walton was playing with J. J. Johnson, the Art Farmer and Benny Golson lead group The Jazztet, and Gigi Gryce.

In the early 1960s, he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers as a pianist and arranger for 3 years, where he played with Wayne Shorter and Freddie Hubbard. He left the Messengers in 1964 and by the late 1960s was part of the house rhythm section at Prestige Records, where in addition to releasing his own recordings, he recorded with Sonny Criss, Pat Martino, Eric Kloss, and Charles McPherson.

During the mid-1970s, Walton led the group Mobius. He has also recorded with Abbey Lincoln, Lee Morgan, and led the band Eastern Rebellion. He continues to lead his own groups and freelance through the present.

Bolivia is perhaps Walton’s best known composition, while one of his oldest is Fantasy in D, recorded under the title Ugetsu by Art Blakey in 1963.

Walton died August 19, 2013.

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