George Wallington was one of the first and best bop pianists, ranking up there with Al Haig, just below Bud Powell.
He was also the composer of two bop standards that caught on for a time: "Lemon Drop" and "Godchild." Born in Sicily, Wallington and his family moved to the U.S. in 1925. He arrived in New York in the early '40s and was a member of the first bop group to play on 52nd Street, Dizzy Gillespie's combo of 1943-1944. After spending a year with Joe Marsala's band, Wallington played with the who's who of bop during 1946-1952, including Charlie Parker, Serge Chaloff, Allan Eager, Kai Winding, Terry Gibbs, Brew Moore, Al Cohn, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims, and Red Rodney. He toured Europe with Lionel Hampton's ill-fated big band of 1953, and during 1954-1960 he led groups in New York that included among its up-and-coming sidemen Donald Byrd and Jackie McLean (the latter succeeded by Phil Woods). Then, in 1960, Wallington gave up on the music business altogether and retired to work in his family's air-conditioning company. 24 years later he re-emerged, recording three albums of original material before time ran out. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi