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.”