whose father taught him how to play the cornet at the age of five and who
went on to attend L.A. City College for two years before joining Si Zentner’s band as lead trumpet. Eleven months into the gig, he was drafted
into the U.S. military, and wound up serving a year in Vietnam, for which
he was decorated with an Army Commendation Medal.
home, he settled in Las Vegas where he stayed for seven years, leading the
brass section for Elvis Presley. After Elvis died, his musicians
scattered, and Walt wound up blowing for Louie Bellson’s
band. He appeared on several Bellson albums, including Sunshine Rock, Matterhorn: Louie Bellson
Drum Explosion, and Dynamite!.
In 1979, Walt
hooked up with Frank Sinatra on his boxed set, Trilogy. It was a
fruitful meeting, because he wound up playing with Sinatra five years
later, and would stay with him until Frank retired in 1994. In the meantime, Walt had made
inroads with his son, Frank Sinatra, Jr., moonlighting with him from 1988
through the present day.
with whom he has worked include Burt Bacharach, The Commodores, Vic Damone, Jose Feliciano, Barry Gibb, Lionel Hampton,
Gladys Knight, Barry Manilow, Wayne Newton, The
Pointer Sisters, Lionel Richie, Lalo Schifrin,
Mel Torme, and Dionne Warwick. Walt won gold and platinum albums
with Manilow, Presley, and Richie.
In 1984, he
played trumpet on the ill-fated Howie Mandel TV
pilot, Welcome to the Fun Zone,
with Weird Al Yankovic on guitar, no less.
would be much friendlier to Walt:
He appeared on the soundtracks of Aladdin, Beverly Hills
Cop III, Close Encounters of the
Third Kind, Doctor Detroit, Into the Night, the
three Naked Gun films, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Rocky, Star Wars, and Terms of
He has finally
made in-roads as a solo artist, as well, on the jazz albums Trumpet Scroll and Warmth of the Sun, and as author of
the book, Double High C in Ten