An audience of 66 people came to pay tribute to a jazz icon at the Black History Month Concert “The Music of Cedar Walton.”
Walton has been a pianist, composer and bandleader for the modern jazz scene for more than 50 years. He has worked as a sideman with jazz figures such as John Coltrane, Art Farmer, J.J. Johnson and many more. He also formed his own famous ensemble, Eastern Rebellion in 1974 that featured jazz greats Bob Berg, Sam Jones and Billy Higgins. Walton still continues to perform and record with his ensembles.
“Cedar Walton was one of the greatest composers I know off,” said saxophonist Willie Akins.
The concert was held in the Winfred Moore Auditorium on Monday Feb 6. at Webster University.
Performing Walton’s music was Akins and his band Eric Slaughter (guitar), Bob DeBoo (bass) and Montez Coleman (drums).
Akins, a Webster Groves native has been on the jazz scene for seven decades. In 1957 he moved to New York. He played with the performers such as Roy Haynes, Jack McDuff and McCoy Tyner, and based his approach to the tenor sax on the styles of Coltrane and Hank Mobley on the New York jazz circuit. Akins moved back to St. Louis about three decades ago and performs on the St. Louis local jazz scene, and has a few jazz hits such as “Like It Is” and “Hey Baby.”
The group opened with a renditions of Walton’s “The Promise Land” and “Visions.” Other songs that were performed were “Bolivia” and “Fantasy in D.”
“Paul DeMarinis helped us pick what songs to play,” said Akins
Akins was very pleased with turn out of the event and he and his band received a standing ovation for Walton’s “Firm Roots.”