Donald Walden, saxophonist/composer received the Jazz Master Award presented by Arts Midwest in 1996, making him one of six Detroit musicians to receive this award. Walden presently holds the position of Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Michigan where he's taught for the past 10 years.
Walden's career has included performances with a wide variety of of artists that include Dizzy Gillespie, Barry Harris, Tommy Flanagan, Aretha Franklin Hank and Elvin Jones.
Walden formed the Detroit Jazz Orchestra (DJO) in 1982 out of the need to develop a civic jazz orchestra to represent the city of Detroit. The DJO received the Governor's Arts Award for Outstanding Achievement in the arts in 1985.Over the years the orchestra has numbered as many as 45 members for special performances, most notably Yardbird Suite which featured big band, string section, 40 voice choir and, Dizzy Gillispie as guest soloist. The orchestra has also been a launching pad for a number of emerging jazz artists that include Geri Allen, Regina Carter, Bob Hurst and Rodney Whitaker.
One of the most satisfying aspects I find in the recordings of John Coltrane is an indefinable spirtuality that seems to emanate from his saxophone. Donald Walden plays with a similar intensity. That is not to say that Walden and Coltrane sound alike, because they don't. Both saxophonists play with a similar sense of urgency that makes me listen more carefully to their playing than I do to the playing of some other musicians - John Laughter - Saxophone Journal