Walt Dickerson Biography

Walter Roland Dickerson, 16 April 1928, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Vibraphonist Dickerson first made his mark in California in the late 50s, leading a group that included Andrew Hill and Andrew Cyrille. He moved to New York in 1960 and played with avant garde jazz musicians such as John Coltrane and Sun Ra, the latter of whom appeared as a sideman on his Impressions Of A Patch Of Blue (based on Jerry Goldsmith’s music for the film A Patch Of Blue). Dickerson was reunited with Hill on To My Queen, dedicated to his wife, Elizabeth, and probably the best known of his early albums. Following a 10-year break from performing (1965-75), Dickerson returned to music, working chiefly in Europe and recording for Denmark’s SteepleChase label. He played again with Sun Ra on the duo Visions and also recorded with Richard Davis, Pierre Dørge and - in another reunion - Cyrille, as well as recording solo. One of the few truly contemporary vibists, Dickerson’s playing is noted for his speed of execution (he uses half-length mallets) and his inventive approach to sonority, employing both bitonality and polytonality to colour music that writer Chris Sheridan has described as ‘labyrinthine geometry’ and ‘towering monoliths of sound which shimmer like glass before dissolving’.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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