Kit Walker



For Kit Walker, the route from childhood on a New England dairy farm in the 1950's to a career in music in the 21st century in the San Francisco Bay area has been a winding and diverse one, assimilating many influences along the way. He started classical piano lessons at age 7, and continued his classical studies through high school, switching to pipe organ at age 16. From there he entered the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and later the University of Michigan School of Music, where he majored in composition. Along a parallel track, in high school Kit began playing drums, and also teaching himself blues piano, being an avid fan of blues, as well as of the exploding psychedelic music phenomenon of the sixties, immersing himself in the music of the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the Cream, Traffic, and the like.

At a certain point in his conservatory education, Kit realized that the classical route was not for him, and left to explore his own direction in music. He immediately started playing in bands, mostly on Hammond B3, and later on Rhodes electric piano. With the advent of the synthesizer, and groups like Weather Report and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Kit gravitated naturally to the expanded tonal palette and orchestrational possibilities of the synthesizer, while continuing his studies in jazz improvisation on acoustic piano. During this time, while living in Boston, he studied piano privately under the legendary Madame Chaloff, who had been teacher to many of the greats, including Keith Jarrett, Steve Kuhn, and Kenny Werner.

This period came to an end with Mme. Chaloff's death, and Kit left Boston and traveled to India, as his inner search began to heat up. In between trips to India he played in the local jazz scene in Boston, but finally moved west to the San Francisco area in 1982.

Taking up residence in Marin County, he began work on his recording career, first with a solo piano recording, 'Wind Follows the Tiger' , and then what became his first Windham Hill Jazz release, 'Dancing on the Edge of the World', which was released in 1986. This album was co-produced by Kit and Andy Narell, and featured Steve Smith on drums, Keith Jones on bass, and Zakir Hussain on tablas, among others. The record was immediately welcomed by the burgeoning contemporary jazz format, and received considerable airplay, reaching to the top 10. His second album, 'Fire in the Lake' followed in 1989, and was also well received worldwide, with airplay and critical acclaim. Both albums enjoyed regular rotation at many stations for over 5 years. He played numerous festivals and concerts with his own band, including the Russian River Jazz festival, and Yoshi's, sharing the stage with artists such as Chick Corea, Richie Beirach, and Tuck and Patti.

Directly after the release of Fire in the Lake, Kit received a commission from Sea Studios in Monterey, CA, to score a nature documentary film called 'A World Alive' which was to be a 3 year installation in a surround-sound theater at the St. Louis Zoological Park. The film won numerous awards, including the CINE Golden Eagle, and the 1990 American Video Conference Award for best program in the category of Science and Nature. The film was narrated by James Earl Jones. It is now being distributed world-wide by the Nature Company, and has been aired on international TV. The soundtrack was released as well on tape and compact disc.

Immediately following completion of the soundtrack project, Kit joined the 1990 Kitaro 'Kojiki' World Tour, and for the next year traveled throughout the US, Japan, and Europe, and recorded with Kitaro on the 'Live in America' recording.

After finishing the Kitaro tour he spent the fall of 1992 in Switzerland touring with Max Lasser, former guitarist for Andreas Vollenweider, and returned home to continue working on his own projects. One of these was a band with Tower of Power drum legend David Garibaldi, called Living Daylight, and this was followed by a four year association with an all original world jazz group called 'Three of Worlds' with Kai Eckhardt, veteran John McLaughlin bassist, Paul MCandless, reedman from the group Oregon, drummer Alan Hall, and percussionist Marquinho Brasil. This group also played frequently around the Bay area and at festivals, including twice at the Bumbershoot festival in Seattle, and the Russian River Jazz festival.

During the same period, Kit joined world music pioneer Jai Uttal's band, the Pagan Love Orchestra, appearing on his album 'Shiva Station', and playing various concerts for the past 6 years. He also began performing on acoustic piano with Rhiannon, the eclectic vocal explorer from Bobby McFerrin's Voicestra, and recorded her second album with her, a collection of live duets and trios called 'Live on Tomales Bay'.

In 1996, Kit was approached by Neal Schon, guitarist from Journey and Santana to work on his third solo album, 'Electric World' with him. This is a double album, on which Kit co-wrote 14 of the 22 tunes with Neal, as well as creating the arrangements, drum programs and synthesizer orchestrations for most of the album.

In the meantime, his first album had crossed paths with rap producer Puff Daddy, who decided to use a sample of one of Kit's pieces on the final album of rap star Notorious B.I.G., called 'Life after Death'. This in turn inspired two other rap groups, SWV and Jagged Edge to also sample his work for tracks on their albums.

In 1998 Kit began to turn his attention more to producing and recording, especially concentrating on his own music, as well as other projects that he began bringing into his production studio . These include a collaboration with the Tibetan freedom singer Techung, and an album with the devotional chanteuse, Deva Premal, in 1999. The same year Kit worked on 'Unbearable Love', the latest album on Triloka Records. by the Native American vocal trio 'Walela' , which features Rita Coolidge, her sister Priscilla Coolidge, and Priscilla's daughter, Laura Satterfield.

1999 was brought to a close with the release of 'Freehouse', Kit's newest album, which he recorded and produced entirely himself at his studio. The album features Paul McCandless, Kai Eckhardt, Alan Hertz, Alan Hall, and others, and is a lively excursion through new territory, a fresh and unpredictable blend of world music and jazz. The album is released on Kit's new label, HUM, the Habitat for Unusual Music.