Grammy Award–winning pianist, bandleader, and composer Cedar Walton (1934–2013) is a major figure
in jazz, associated with a variety of styles from bebop to funk and famous for composing several
standards. Born and raised in Dallas, Walton studied music in Denver, where he jammed with musicians
such as Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. In 1955, Walton moved to New York, immediately gaining
recognition from notable musicians and nightclub proprietors. When Walton returned to the U.S. after
serving abroad in the Army, he joined Benny Golson and Art Farmer’s Jazztet. Later, he became both
pianist and arranger for Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Next, he worked as part of Prestige Records’s
house rhythm section, recording with numerous greats and releasing his own albums.
One hallmark of Walton’s impact is his numerous long-term collaborations with giants such as trombonist
Curtis Fuller and drummer Billy Higgins. By the end of his career, Walton’s discography, as both band
member and bandleader, included many dozens of vaunted recordings with some of the most notable jazz
musicians of the 1960s through the first decade of the twenty-first century.
Ben Markley conducted more than seventy-five interviews with friends and family members, musicians who
played with or were otherwise influenced by Walton, and industry figures such as club owners. Musicians
interviewed include such stars as Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, and Ron Carter. Walton’s wife Martha has
supported Markley’s writing project from its inception and shared her extensive archives of photos,
ephemera such as fliers and tour itineraries, and letters, including Walton’s correspondence with his
mother. Cedar includes a foreword by Cedar Walton’s cousin, William Walton, an afterword by Carl Walton,
and a thorough discography.