These words are from the article written by William Yardley in The New York Times that spoke to Cedar Walton’s passing in August of 2013: “Mr. Walton sat in with Charlie Parker, spent a year accompanying the singer Abbey Lincoln, and recorded with both John Coltrane and, much later, the saxophonist Joshua Redman. He led a series of successful small groups…”
That could be enough, and this piece could end right here — but there is so much more. Walton was more than his time spent with The Jazz Messengers. Of that pivotal band, he said it made him a better accompanist, and he established himself as a major composer of original jazz standards. About accompanying in an environment based on improvisation, Walton summed the skill up as “total listening.”
It was his mom who first taught him how to play the piano. Moms are some of the greatest ones. His band Eastern Rebellion, by name and by spirit, says everything about the artist’s legacy and sound. Bluesy, it commented on the directions of the music and the music’s culture that he played and experienced. His soundscape was at once funky, groovy, gentle, graceful, and inspiring.