Bookcover: Cedar: The Life and Music of Cedar Walton

Cedar: The Life and Music of Cedar Walton

vol. 18: North Texas Lives of Musicians Series

Ben Markley — author. 
Subject: Music Biography

May, 2023




55 b&w illus. Notes. Bib. Index.




Hardcover, E-Book


About Markley's Cedar

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.

About the Author

BEN MARKLEY is an associate professor and the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Wyoming. A noted bandleader, composer/arranger, pianist, and educator, Markley performs widely throughout the northern Colorado–Wyoming region with the best touring and local musicians, many of whom play in the Ben Markley Big Band. His 2017 album, Clockwise: The Music of Cedar Walton (OA2 Records), received critical acclaim. Markley is the author of A Practical Approach to Improvisation: The David Hazeltine Method.

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