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37 Important Dates in the Life of Jim Walker


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ISSN: 2792-8349

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International Journal of Music

  • 1944: Born in Greenville, Kentucky, USA, in a musical household — his father, Bob, was a public school band director and jazz clarinetist, and his mother, Barbara, a church organist.
  • 1950: Began with piano at age 6.
  • 1954: Started learning flute aged 10.
  • 1960: Attended the Summer Institute at the University of Kentucky with Sarah Fouse this year and next.
  • 1962: Enrolled at the University of Louisville, where he studied with Francis Fuge, graduating with Honors in 1966. Other significant teachers were Claude Monteux (1964) and James Pellerite (1966).
  • 1966: Became piccolo/assistant principal flute of the Louisville Orchestra. Then, he joined the United States Military Academy Band at West Point, remaining there until 1969. At the same time, he studied with Harold Bennett, former principal flautist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
  • 1969: Was named associate principal flute in the Pittsburgh Symphony.
  • 1977: After eight years in Pittsburgh, he was appointed principal flute in the Los Angeles Philharmonic by Zubin Mehta.
  • 1980: Founded Free Flight — a jazz quartet featuring flute, piano, bass and drums.
  • 1981: Released Free Flight’s debut album, Freeflight (Voss Records). First appearance (out of four) with Free Flight on The Tonight Show.
  • 1982: The New York Philharmonic briefly borrowed him as principal flute for their South American tour. He performed with Free Flight on the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl, and released two new albums with the quartet: Classical Jazz (Arabesque Recordings) and The Jazz/Classical Union (Palo Alto Jazz).
  • 1983: Released Free Flight’s album Soaring (Palo Alto Records), and his debut solo album, Flight of the Dove, with pianist Mike Garson — who joined Free Flight in 1982.
  • 1984: Released Free Flight’s album Beyond the Clouds (Palo Alto Records), featuring Mike Garson for the first time.
  • 1985: Left the Los Angeles Philharmonic to focus on Free Flight and become one of the most in-demand session musicians at Los Angeles Television & Motion Picture Studios (his flute can be heard on over 700 soundtracks and commercials). He released his second solo album, Reflections (Reference Recordings), and received the Most Valuable Player Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS). Guest artist for Wayne Shorter’s album, Atlantis.
  • 1986: Released Free Flight’s album Illumination (CBS Records), and received NARAS’ Most Valuable Player Award for a second time.
  • 1988: Professor of Practice at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.
  • 1989: Released Free Flight’s album Slice of Life (CBS Records).
  • 1990: Released Free Flight’s album Private Flight (Tall Tree Records).
  • 1991: Alumni Fellow Award from the University of Louisville’s School of Music. Since this year, he has been a master teacher for the flute section of the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy.
  • 1992: Japanese release of his album, The Eternal Life (TBA Records).
  • 1994: Released the book & CD Flute Solos for the Performing Artist (Alfred Publishing Company), composed by Mike Garson.
  • 1995: Edited flute masterworks on the Alfred Music Publications’ Young Artist Series, and released the album Music for Flute and Piano (CPP Media Records).
  • 1996: Released The Music of Free Flight on Alfred Music Publishing, and Free Flight’s compilation album Best of Free Flight (Walker/Garson).
  • 1997: Released the album The Music of George Gershwin (Walker/Garson).
  • 1998: Guest artist for Los Angeles Guitar Quartet’s album L.A.G.Q. (Sony Classical).
  • 1999: Released Free Flight’s album Free Flight 2000 (CPP Media Records).
  • 2000: Released the album Tranquility (Walker/Garson).
  • 2002: Guest artist for Los Angeles Guitar Quartet’s album Latin (Telarc). Paul McCartney invited him to perform together at the Academy Awards broadcast.
  • 2007: Released the album Jim Walker Plays the Music of Mike Garson (Walker/Garson).
  • 2008: Was appointed Professor of Flute and Chamber Music at The Colburn Conservatory of Music. Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Flute Association. He founded the “Beyond The Masterclass” Flute Week in Los Angeles, where he continues to teach today.
  • 2009: Mellon Mentor Teaching Award from the USC.
  • 2010: Released the album Pied Piper (Reference Recordings).
  • 2011: Arranged and published the Flute Ensemble Series.
  • 2012: Released the album Free Flight Forever (Walker/Garson) — a live 1985 broadcast.
  • 2014: Joined The Music Academy of the West as a faculty member until today.
  • 2020: Participated in the album Frank Ticheli Volume 2 (GIA WindWorks), in the Silver Lining’s Concerto for Flute with the North Texas Wind Symphony / Eugene Migliaro Corporon.
  • 2022: Retiring in January 2022 from the USC, having completed 32 years at the Thornton School.


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