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One of the most valued of all hard bop accompanists, Cedar Walton is a versatile pianist whose funky touch and cogent melodic sense have 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 the pianist's early-'60s stint with the Jazz Messengers.

Walton was first taught piano by his mother. After attending the University of Denver, he moved to New York in 1955, ostensibly to play music. Instead, he was drafted into the Army. Stationed in Germany, Walton played with American musicians
Leo Wright, Don Ellis, and Eddie Harris. After his discharge, Walton moved back to New York, where he began his career in earnest. From 1958-1961, Walton played with Kenny Dorham, J.J. Johnson, and Art Farmer's Jazztet, among others. Walton joined Blakey in 1961, with whom he remained 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 1965-1966 and made records with Lee Morgan from 1966-1968; from 1967-1969, Walton served as a sideman on many Prestige albums as well. Walton played in a band with Hank Mobley
in the early '70s and returned to Blakey for a 1973 tour of Japan.

Walton's own band of the period was called
Eastern Rebellion, and was comprised of a rotating cast that included saxophonists Clifford Jordan, George Coleman, and Bob Berg; bassist Sam Jones; and drummer Billy Higgins. In the '80s and '90s, Walton continued to lead his own fine bands, recording on the Muse, Evidence, and Steeplechase labels. In addition to his many quantifiable accomplishments, Walton is less well known as the first pianist to record, in April 1959 with John Coltrane, the tenorist's daunting "Giant Steps" -- unlike the unfortunate Tommy Flanagan a month later, Walton wasn't required to solo, though he does comp magnificently.


Chris Kelsey, All Music Guide



Williams is probably best-known for his long stint with pianist Cedar Walton, but he's also played with many other famous jazz artists, including drummer Beaver Harris, flugelhornist Chuck Mangione, and singer Vanessa Rubin. Williams studied with Ron Carter while in his 20s. He worked with Harris in New York City and Mangione in Rochester, NY around 1969, and backed pop singer Roberta Flack in the early '70s. During the 70's Williams played with alto saxophonists Ornette Coleman and Charles McPherson, pianists Billy Taylor, Kenny Barron, and Duke Jordan, drummer Elvin Jones, and tenor saxophonists Archie Shepp and George Adams, among others. He played in the bands of alto saxophonist Art Pepper and trombonist Slide Hampton in the '80s, and also worked with trumpeter Woody Shaw. He began playing with Walton around 1983; thereafter he was a member of Walton's various bands, often forming a rhythm section with Billy Higgins before the drummer's death in 2001. Williams played on Vanessa Rubin's 2001 release, Girl Talk, and on Manhattan Transfer vocalist Janis Siegel's 2002 album, I Wish You Love. Walton also played on both albums.


Chris Kelsey, All Music Guide

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