While in Colorado, Walton met and played with a number of jazz notables, including Bird, and it was this that probably had something to do with the pianist's decision to move to New York in From the start, Walton found living in the Big Apple a heady experience.
He performed everywhere, sitting in, making rehearsals, and doing small club dates whenever he got the chance. It didn't last long, though; that year, Walton was drafted. Spending in the Army, Walton was stationed first at Fort Dix, where he met tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, and later in Germany. As a member of the Special Services, he was able to play with several good jazzmen, including Eddie Harris, with whom the pianist later recorded.
In fact, Harris made his best albums with Walton, e. Most notable of all, it was while in the service that Walton had a chance to sit in with Duke Ellington's band. The piano player didn't get much room to stretch out here, but was thrilled anyway. Johnson's sextets. Walton formed some solid relations there with drummer Tootie Heath, the brother of Percy and Jimmy Heath, and Jordan, and worked frequently with both in the future.
His technique is impressive, his touch subtle, his articulation accurate. He's never at a loss for ideas and always thoughtful. Regardless of how fast the tempo is, he refuses to be rushed, pacing himself intelligently and improvising melodically pretty and nicely resolved lines. His playing owes more to Bud Powell than anyone else here, and he uses Red Garlandish voicings, but already, he has established his own style. It's a mark of leader Johnson's approval that Walton is the featured soloist on Red Cross.
In addition to his soloing, Walton proved himself a laudable accompanist who complements the other musicians without getting in their way. As you might think, Johnson impressed Walton as well. On March 26, , shortly after cutting his first session with Johnson, Walton appeared on a John Coltrane Atlantic session during which the first versions of "Giant Steps," "Naima," and "Like Sunny" were recorded. Unfortunately, they were not the first versions to be released.
They finally saw the light of day in , by which time the public had come to associate "Giant Steps" with Tommy Flanagan, who had recorded it with Trane six weeks after Walton. The pianist solos with Coltrane only on "Like Sunny," turning in a lovely spot. Another one of Johnson's splendid sextets, this one featured trumpeter Farmer, tenor saxman Golson, and trombonist Curtis Fuller, who was later replaced by Tom McIntosh.
This may have been Blakey's best band, featuring, in addition to Walton, a front line containing Hubbard, Shorter, and Fuller. Walton calls his situation with Blakey the ultimate experience. The encouragement in that band was contagious. Art had a keen sense of spotting talent, sometimes before it developed. I flowered and developed my ability to accompany with him.
Art played with great power, but left little holes for the pianist. He also wrote the title tune for Joe Henderson's Mode for Joe. While not necessarily becoming a better soloist with Blakey -- his playing in the late Fifties being quite strong -- Walton did evolve into a more confident and aggressive performer. In , he began backing Abbey Lincoln, who, at the time, was married to jazz drummer extraordinaire Max Roach. Please choose whether or not you want other users to be able to see on your profile that this library is a favorite of yours.
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