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Drummer Walter Bolden Dies at 76

Walter Bolden, a jazz drummer who got his break with Stan Getz in 1950, died from cancer on Feb. 7. He was 76.

Bolden studied at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Conn., and he played pick-up gigs in the area. In 1950, Getz came to Hartford to play the Sundown Club, which featured a house band that included pianist Horace Silver and Bolden. The concert was a success and Getz decided to take the band on the road with him and record with them for Roost. Because of their association with Getz, Silver and Bolden moved to New York City and found a ton of work.

In 1951, Bolden recorded with Gerry Mulligan for the baritone saxophonist’s first album, but that was just one of many sessions the talented drummer kept time on. He also recorded with Jackie McLean, J.J. Johnson, Coleman Hawkins, Junior Mance, Walter Bishop Jr., Lambert, Hendricks and Ross and many others.

Bolden also taught at the University of Hartford, and worked on the staff of nonprofit education and performance organization Jazzmobile.

Bolden is survived by his wife, Mabel, and a brother, Madison.

Originally Published