RIP Walter Norris | Rock Candy

Thursday, November 10, 2011

RIP Walter Norris

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Jazz pianist and Arkansas native Walter Norris died Oct. 29 in Berlin.
  • Jazz pianist and Arkansas native Walter Norris died Oct. 29 in Berlin.

Late last month, the Little Rock-born jazz pianist, teacher and author Walter Norris died in Germany, where he had lived for the last 34 years.

Norris started playing professionally with The Howard Williams Band in Little Rock while he was still in high school, and he toured briefly with Mose Allison shortly after graduating. After a two-year stint in the Air Force, Norris moved to Houston and then Los Angeles. He performed on the legendary Ornette Coleman's first album, 1958's "Something Else" and on Jack Sheldon's first album, "Quartet & Quintet." He also played on Chet Baker's last concert recording, in 1988.

He relocated to New York City in the '60s and was the music director at The Playboy Club for several years. He played in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Big Band and in 1976 he joined the band led by mercurial genius Charles Mingus. In 1977, he moved to Berlin, where he lived until his death, on Oct. 29.

Hot Springs musician and artist Chuck Dodson made a documentary about Norris, available here.

More on Norris here and here.

After the jump, check out an excellent track from his 1978 album "Synchronicity."

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