Dallas, Texas native Cedar Walton started his career in the late 1950s when he settled in New York City after a two-year stint in the army. The pianist soon found work with the likes of Lou Donaldson, Art Farmer or J.J. Johnson. Walton then joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers from 1961 to 1964, revealing a unique talent for inspired and original compositions. Around the same time, Walton sat on countless Blue Note recording sessions. Cedar, his first album as a leader, came out in 1966. It would be the first of a string of first rate recordings: over the following decades, Walton proved himself to be ever prolific and inspired. In 2012, the legendary musician paid his third visit to the Festival. He passed away the following year.