Grammy award-winning drummer/percussionist/composer/educator Mark Walker was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He began playing drum set at age 10, and at age 16 studied with the “Dean of Percussion” Roy C. Knapp until Knapp’s death in 1979. He played his first professional club, concert and recording gigs barely out of high school.
He gained valuable experience performing an extremely wide range of styles in the Chicago area and later became a first-call session drummer and percussionist, playing on film scores, jingles and record dates. He also began a two-year stint with Lyle Mays, touring the U.S. and Europe.
While still 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.
He made the move to New York in 1995, immediately establishing himself on the session scene and going on the road 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”.
He 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.
He has appeared on major television shows such as: “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).
He 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