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Ed Bickert and Fraser MacPherson
Photo courtesy of the Fraser MacPherson estate
|Birth name||Edward Isaac Bickert|
November 29, 1932|
Hochfeld, Manitoba, Canada
|Associated acts||Moe Koffman, Boss Brass|
Bickert was born in Hochfeld, Manitoba, the second youngest of his family. Soon after he was born, the family moved to Vernon, British Columbia. Although their occupation was farming and orchard work, his mother was a pianist and his father a fiddler. Bickert learned basic guitar chords from his older brother. On weekends during the 1940s he joined his parents playing at country dances. After high school, he worked briefly before driving across Canada to Toronto, Ontario with an aspiring writer friend, in 1952. After a few non-paying jobs and formal guitar lessons, he became the guitar player for one of the leading jazz groups in Toronto.
By the sixties, he was a first-call studio musician. Notable for his long association with the late Moe Koffman and Phil Nimmons' recordings, Bickert became a charter member of Rob McConnell's Boss Brass. He also played in local gigs with American musicians who employed Toronto rhythm sections. He played regularly at George's Spaghetti House with fellow members of Moe Koffman's band, with and without Koffman. Bickert married, and eschewing the road, stayed at home and raised a family.
In the 1970s Jim Hall, a friend of Bickert, recommended him to Paul Desmond. Desmond's rapport and enthusiasm for Bickert's style persuaded him to record the album Pure Desmond at Rudy Van Gelder's studio for CTI Records in the fall of 1974, with Ron Carter (bass) and Connie Kay (drums). In the spring and fall of 1975, Desmond and Bickert, along with fellow Canadian musicians Don Thompson on bass and Jerry Fuller on drums, appeared at the now-defunct Bourbon Street club in Toronto. Recordings from the fall performances were released in 1978 by the Artists House label as Paul Desmond Quartet Live in LP format, with the spring shows being released on CD in 1992 by the Telarc label imprint Telarchive as Like Someone In Love.
Bickert's use of the solid-body Fender Telecaster set him apart from his peers. He used the same Telecaster for many years, playing it in stock form. At some point, he replaced the standard neck single coil with a humbucking pickup (which can be seen in the photo above).
Bickert made a few albums with Rosemary Clooney and other well-known artists through the 1980s and 1990s, as well as leading his own sessions. Although he did not formally teach students in one-on-one lessons, he was a well-known clinician and had many aspiring players attend his workshops. In the mid 1990s, a fall caused serious injuries to his arms. He recovered, and continued to play and tour until his retirement in the early 2000s, after the death of his wife, Madeline.
- 1980: Juno Award for Best Jazz Recording, Sackville 4005 with Don Thompson
- 1996: Member of the Order of Canada
As leader or co-leader
- I Like to Recognize the Tune (UALA, 1977)
- Ed Bickert (PM, 1978)
- Ed Bickert/Don Thompson (Sackville, 1979)
- Ed Bickert/Don Thompson: Dance to the Lady (Sackville, 1983)
- Ed Bickert 5 at Toronto's Bourbon Street (Concord, 1983)
- Bye Bye Baby (Concord, 1984)
- Mutual Street with Rob McConnell (Concord, 1984)
- I Wished On the Moon (Concord, 1985)
- The Quartet of Lorne Lofsky and Friends (Unisson, 1985)
- Third Floor Richard (Concord, 1989)
- This is New with Lorne Lofsky (Concord, 1990)
- Trio Sketches with Rob McConnell and Neil Swainson (Concord, 1991)
- Billy Mays/Ed Bickert (Concord, 1994)
- The Guitar Mastery of Ed Bickert (DSM, 1996)
- Three for the Road with Rob McConnell and Don Thompson (Concord, 1997)
- Murley, Bickert & Wallace: Live at the Senator (Cornerstone, 2000)
- At the Garden Party with Don Thompson (Sackville, 2002)
- At Last (PM, 2005)
- Murley, Bickert & Wallace: Test of Time (2012)
- North of the Border in Canada (Decca, 1967 )
With Paul Desmond
- Barth, Joe (2006). Voices in Jazz Guitar. Pacific, Missouri: Mel Bay. p. 65. ISBN 9780786676798.