We lost a very fine jazz pianist today (Aug 19, 2013) in Cedar Walton, who died at 74. I was fortunate to hear him live on two, or was it three occasions, all at Yoshi’s Nightclub in Oakland, CA. There was a life in his playing, a bright spark that came through. He genuinely enjoyed playing to his audience and seemed like an all around nice guy. Walton’s history is pretty deep, you can dig up the details by online search. Suffice to say that he was among the barest handful of greats who were still alive, still playing well. I suspect he wasn’t near the top of most lists because he didn’t become better known until the early 60s, much later than Bud Powell, Monk or Bill Evans.
At left are my photos of his trio, with Willie Jones III on drums and David Williams on bass, from a show at Yoshi’s on April 27, 2012 (same as the ticket stub). The poster (below right) is from a November 2004 show with special guest guitarist Kenny Burrell. The band included one heck of a drummer, Lewis Nash and once again, David Williams on bass. I enjoy making up my own posters for shows and designed it with Reid Miles in mind. Miles was the album designer for Blue Note Records, and his style is instantly recognizable. I brought it to the show and the 4 members of the band signed it for me that night in ’04.
While I never heard Eydie Gorme live, I have certainly come to appreciate her voice the past few years. Her death on August 10 was a surprise to me. Not strictly a jazz singer, she sometimes fronted a big band and could easily reach the vocal stratosphere. Gorme, 84, could hits those notes but more importantly, she was a terrific interpreter of a lyric. It’s a shame she didn’t record with jazz trios or small groups. But there are several LPs out there that are worth having if you enjoy jazz singing with a big band sound.
I hope to get around to blogging about both these fine musicians in the future.