Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Mark Walker began playing professionally at age eighteen. He grew to become a musical chameleon of sorts, gaining valuable experience in virtually every style of playing. This led to a successful career as a first-call studio musician, as well as touring stints with pianist Lyle Maysand reedman Paul McCandless.
Collaborating with Chicago guitarist Dave Onderdonk on an album entitled "Loose Contact" , Walker was featured as a drummer, percussionist, bassist, programmer, co-composer and co-producer. The project received a four-star rating in Down Beat magazine and kudos from many respected musicians.
Walker began working with Cuban saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera in 1989 and has since toured the world with D'Rivera's various ensembles, including the Havana/New York Ensemble, the U.N. Orchestra, the World Festival Orchestra and the Paquito D'Rivera Quintet. Walker has performed on nearly a dozen of D'Rivera's recordings, including three Grammy award winning CDs and two Grammy nominated disks. The latest release, "Live at the Blue Note", won a Latin Grammy award. He appears with D'Rivera in the film documentary "Calle 54" and the Grammy-nominated soundtrack.
Since moving to New York in 1995, Walker has had a busy career as a touring and recording musician. From 1994-97 he performed with the Caribbean Jazz Project, featuring Dave Samuels, Andy Narelland Paquito D'Rivera. The group made two CDs and toured extensively.
In 1996, he was invited to perform with legendary Brazilian pianist Cesar Camargo Mariano. He accompanied musical guests Milton Nascimiento, Joao Bosco, Ivan Lins, Michael Brecker, Dianne Reeves and James Ingram, appearing in Europe, Brazil and New York City's Carnegie Hall.
In 1997 he began a two-year stint with Michel Camilo, with whom he still performs on occasion with bassist Anthony Jackson. He has also performed with Camilo's big band and on several Latin pop recordings produced by Camilo.
Walker began performing with legendary group Oregon in 1997, after being invited by producer Steve Rodby to play on the CD "Northwest Passage". Oregon, featuring Ralph Towner, Paul McCandless, and Glen Moore, recently celebrated their thirtieth anniversary as a group. Oregon won four Grammy award nominations for their 1999 recording "Oregon in Moscow", a double CD recorded with the Tchaikovsky Orchestra of Moscow. The group's latest recording, "Live at Yoshi's," will be released summer 2002. Presently, Oregon continues to maintain a consistent touring schedule.
In 2001, he collaborated with Bob McGrath, from the PBS television show "Sesame Street", composing, arranging, performing, and producing music for a play-along CD included in McGrath's line of kids' percussion, the "Rhythm Band Set". Mark performed traditional rhythms of the Caribbean, South America, Asia, the Middle East and the United States, using both traditional and non-traditional instruments.
Recent activities include a new group and CD entitled "Latin Genesis", featuring saxophonists David Leibman, Don Braden and Dan Moretti; concerts in Uruguay with Brazilian singer/guitarist Rosa Passos; recordings with Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo (featuring Ivan Lins and Cesar Camargo Mariano); performances with Dave Samuels and Dave Valentin; recordings and concerts with the WDR and NDR German radio big bands; the debut CD of harp sensation Edmar Castaneda; summer and fall dates with "Calle 54" All-Stars (featuring Paquito D'Rivera and many others); and tours in Europe and the U.S. with Oregon.
Walker has just released two of a series of loop CD's. "Chameleon Drums 1 & 2", now available through www.sonicstop.com , features wav. files of Walker's solo and timekeeping patterns for drums, and can be used by both novice and professional composers and producers to create virtually any style of music on a computer. He also has recorded a critically-acclaimed loop CD entitled "Latin Drums: the Rhythm of the Americas".
When he's not performing or recording, Walker enjoys teaching young musicians. In 2001, he was appointed Associate Professor of Percussion at the world-renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston. He is currently developing new curriculum for the college, including "South American Rhythms for Drumset" and "Caribbean Rhythms for Drumset" labs.
He has also been a faculty member of Drummer's Collective in New York City since 1997. He has taught many through his solo clinics and with Paquito D'Rivera, Lyle Mays, Oregon, Jesus "Chucho" Valdes, Claudio Roditi, Bill Watrous, and others. He is currently a Yamaha, Zildjian, Remo and Vic Firth endorser.
He's also worked with Lyle Mays, Oregon, Michael Brecker, Ivan Lins, Claudio Roditi, Dave Samuels, Andy Narell, Joe Henderson, United Nation Orchestra, and Michel Camilo Big Band/Trio. Mark's specialty is Latin, Brazilian, and Big Band drumming, along with studio drumming technique.