Jazz great to teach York masterclass

Legendary jazz pianist Cedar Walton will conduct a masterclass-clinic in the Department of Music at York University on Jan. 28. Open to the public, the masterclass will be held in McLaughlin Performance Hall from 2:30 to 4:30pm. Admission is free. The audience can watch Walton work with students in York’s jazz program, as he helps them with their technique and musical interpretation.

Considered one of the best jazz pianists of his generation, Walton has been winning critical and audience acclaim throughout an up-tempo performance career spanning more than 40 years. Maintaining a non-stop itinerary, he has accompanied a litany of jazz greats while also fronting his own successful bands.

Left: Jazz pianist Cedar Walton

Born in 1934 in Dallas, Texas, Walton set his sights on a career in music at an early age. An after-hours gig at the Denver Club introduced him to distinguished musicians such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane, who would sit in with Walton’s band when they passed through town. And the rest is history, as Walton emerged as a true master of the music he loves, igniting rhythm sections behind the likes of Milt Jackson, Frank Morgan, Dexter Gordon and vocalists Ernestine Anderson and Freddy Cole. He also held the piano chair of The Trumpet Summit Band, and formed a dynamic trio with Ron Carter and Billy Higgins.

Walton’s achievements have been well documented on the Timeless, Discovery, Red Baron and Steeple Chase recording labels. His original compositions, including Bolivia, Clockwise, Firm Roots, Mosaic and The Promised Land, are frequently recorded by other musicians and are becoming part of the standard jazz repertoire.

The Cedar Walton Trio will be performing at the Montreal Bistro & Jazz Club from Jan. 27 to 29, featuring internationally acclaimed bassist Dave Young and York University Professor Barry Elmes, who has been described by critics as “the undisputed ‘top gun’ on drums. Elmes has been a mainstay of the Canadian jazz scene since the early 1980s. Showtime is 9pm, with a special admission price of $5.00 for students.

Walton’s visit to York University is part of the Music Department’s Distinguished Artist Masterclass series. The series also features six leading Canadian jazz artists:

  • Mike Murley, saxophone, Jan. 27, 9:30-11:30am
  • Roy Patterson, guitar, Feb. 4, 2:30-4:30pm
  • Mark Eisenman, piano, Feb. 24, 9:30-11:30am
  • Barry Elmes, drums, Feb. 25, 2:30-4:30pm
  • Bonnie Brett, vocals, March 3, 9:30-11:30am
  • Lorne Lofsky, guitar, March 4, 2:30-4:30pm

All masterclasses are open to the public, free of charge. Morning sessions take place in Room 207, McLaughlin College, and afternoon sessions are in the McLaughlin Performance Hall, 050 McLaughlin College, at York’s Keele campus. For more information, contact the Department of Music, Faculty of Fine Arts, at ext. 55186.