Category: Walton, Cedar

NEA Jazz Masters: Interview with Cedar Walton

One of the great hard bop pianists, Cedar Walton was also known for his compositions, some of which have become jazz standards, such as “Bolivia,” “Clockwise,” and “Firm Roots.” A.B. Spellman spoke with Mr. Walton in 2010 about his musical journey from Dallas to New York to the world stage and being named an NEA Jazz Master.

—Peter Blasevick

R.I.P. Cedar Walton, January 17, 1934-August 19, 2013

cedarWaltonSad news that the great Cedar Walton has died. Ted Panken posts great interviews and tributes on his  Today Is The Question blog, and this one is no different. Included are notes to Roots, a well-funded late ’90s reworking of some of his older “hits” with an all star band, and a Downbeat Blindfold Test, both I believe from the 1990s. From the Roots notes:

“I began doodling at 6 or 7, mainly because there was a piano in the house.  My mother played from sheet music, and she taught students at our home on a regular basis.  Though she always wanted to be a pianist, she decided to teach school instead of pursuing a serious career.  She and my father were great Jazz fans, and they used to point out to me some of their favorites, who included Duke Ellington, Nat Cole, Cab Calloway, all the stars of the day.  We’d hear location broadcasts from various key dance halls around the country by Duke Ellington and Earl Hines — I even heard Art Blakey from Birdland on radio.  In the ’40s there was a weekly show called Piano Playhouse that featured a Classical guy and a studio guy, who would have a Classical and a Jazz guest artist.  People like Tatum, Teddy Wilson and Erroll Garner would be guests, always playing solo, never using accompaniment, and that greatly inspired me.”

Click here to read R.I.P. Cedar Walton, January 17, 1934-August 19, 2013 

Interview with Cedar Walton

This is a fascinating 2010 interview with the legendary pianist Cedar Walton from Ethan Iverson’s smart DoTheMath blog. A great talk. A quick bit from the interview about meeting and knowing your musical influences:

“I’m extremely fortunate to have been here early enough to meet the likes of Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, and Erroll Garner. Even Miles Davis came around to hear us when we were with the Messengers.

“They would hand out little bits of wisdom. The strongest in my memory is Thelonious Monk, who talked through his teeth a lot. He’d say, “Play your own shit.”

And that’s what I’m doing. I mean, I think it’s unconscious from his suggestion. Possibly. I’m not a psychologist, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize the power of suggestion is strong sometimes.”

Click here to read Interview with Cedar Walton 

Two Cedar Walton interviews from 1976

In these two 1976 interviews with journalist, historian and record producer Les Tomkins, Walton talks about the state of Jazz, his early years, his touring band, and playing the famous Ronnie Scott’s for the first time.

Click here to read Two Cedar Walton interviews from 1976