Mark Walker

Author/Educator & Independent

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Grammy award-winning drummer/percussionist/composer/educator Mark Walker was born and raised in Chicago. He began playing drum set at age 10, and at age 16 studied with Roy C. Knapp, “Dean of Percussion,” until Knapp’s death in 1979.  

Mark’s played his first professional club, concert and recording gigs barely out of high school and gained valuable experience performing a wide range of styles in the Chicago area. He later became a first-call session drummer and percussionist, playing on film scores, jingles and record dates and also began a two-year stint with Lyle Mays, touring the U.S. and Europe.

While living in Chicago in the 1990’s, he began a long stint with sax/clarinet virtuoso Paquito D’Rivera, which continues to this day. He has played on many of Paquito’s records, including  “Funk Tango” (Grammy award winner in 2008 for best Latin jazz album), “Tropicana Nights”(Latin Grammy winner), and “Portraits of Cuba” (Grammy Winner), among many others.   

Upon moving to New York in 1995, he immediately establishing himself as a session player. He also toured with the Caribbean Jazz Project featuring D’Rivera, Dave Samuels and Andy Narell.  He played on the Latin Grammy award winning live double CD, “Here and Now: Live in Concert”. He also recorded and toured with Rosa Passos, Michel Camilo, Dave Liebman, Cesar Camargo Mariano, Diane Schuur, Linda Eder, Cathy Richardson Band and Ivan Lins.

In 1997 he began a long association with Oregon, featuring Ralph Towner. The band has earned five Grammy nominations, including the category of best instrumental composition in 2008 for Walker’s tune “Deep Six”.

Walker has also performed onstage with major artists such as Vince Mendoza, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Mike Manieri, Airto Moreira, Don Alias, Flora Purim, Dizzy Gillespie, Sammy Davis Jr., Chu Cho Valdes, Amadito Valdes,  Bebo Valdes, Sakesho, Eliane Elias, Jerry Gonzalez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Jovino Santos Neto, Chano Dominguez, Diane Reeves, João Bosco and Leny Andrade.

Mark has appeared on major television shows including “Late Night with David Letterman”, “The Rosie O’Donnell Show”, “PBS presents…” and “BET On Jazz”. He also appears on screen with Paquito D’Rivera in Fernando Trueba’s Latin jazz documentary “Calle 54”(Miramax).  

Walker has taught at Berklee College of Music since 2001, and was appointed professor in 2008. He has also served on the faculty at Drummers Collective in New York City. Mark has given master classes, clinics and workshops in Africa, South America, North America and Europe.

His ensemble, the “Rhythm of the Americas”, presents jazz compositions with rhythms deeply rooted in the Afro-Latin styles of North America, the Caribbean, and South America.

Mark recently released an instructional book and CD, “World Jazz Drumming”(Berklee Press/Hal Leonard) and has also wrote for the instructional book “Killer Grooves” (Carl Fischer). He is also the author for a new Afro-Cuban online drum set course for Berkleemusic.com.

Mark’s solo projects include the sample/loop discs “Chameleon Drums, Vol 1 & 2”(Sonic Emulations) and “Ritmo De Las Americas”(Sampleheads).  He has also composed and arranged for the group Oregon, the Paquito D’Rivera Quintet, Bob McGrath, the Hokkaido Groove Camp Big Band and the Syracuse University Big Band.  

He has performed on five Grammy award winning albums and has earned nine Grammy nominations for his work with various pop and jazz artists, including Oregon, Donato Poveda, Paquito D’Rivera and Caribbean Jazz Project.  He recently was nominated for a Grammy award for best instrumental composition (for the track “Deep Six” from Oregon’s CD “1000 Kilometers”) and won best Latin jazz album as a drummer/composer for  “Funk Tango” by the Paquito D’Rivera Quintet.  Mark has also earned the Indie award and the Jazz award (German record manufacturers) for his work with Oregon.

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Southern Fried Funk - Mark Walker, Drums
Mark Walker Drum Clinic Solo in Quito, Ecuador.mov
Mark Walker with the Omar Thomas Large Ensemble:
Doff : Oregon Live
Mark Walker (drums) with Andy Narell
Mark Walker - Background in Afro-Cuban Drums