In 1955 he moved to New York, but had barely begun to find his way about before being called up for two years’ military service. A few days before his unit left for Germany, Duke Ellington’s orchestra came to play at their camp.
For a dare, Walton asked if he could sit in: “The last thing we expected him to say was ‘yes’, but he did. He said ‘Go easy on those keys, young man’.” At the end of the number Ellington smiled, saying: “I thought I told you to go easy!” This, Walton later realised, was a “very Ellingtonian” way of paying a compliment.
Cedar Walton, who has died aged 79, was a noted jazz pianist and composer; a leading exponent of the style known as “hard bop”, he came to prominence as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, before going on to a prolific career as a player, bandleader and recording artist. Telegraph.uk
I do not very often deploy this blog to mark the passings of giants. Today is different because piano is my favorite jazz instrument and Mr. Walton has been one of my favorite pianists for close to four decades. In the middle of the strip above, pulled from youtube, is a triangle and if you click it magic happens courtesy of Cedar Walton, George Coleman, Sam Jones, and Billy Higgins.
In the best of all worlds, start here:
You Didn’t Know What Time It Was – live at Maybeck Hall (Concord Jazz)