Ed Bickert: Comps Complete

By Sandy Freeze (a.k.a.: strumdabiz)

> Part III : Tune,Tone, and Tempo

Part I: Ed Bickert Guitar Workshop
Part II: Ed Bickert,
Pluck, If Not Adventure
Part III: Ed Bickert,
Tune, Tone, And Tempo

____________Strumdabiz_____Ab Major
~E_A_D_G_B_E~       ______E|r4+++|E
[- - - - - -]      / _____B|a4+++|B
[1_BARRE _1_]PosIV/ / ____G|m5+++|G
[^ - - 2   ^]Fr5 / / / ___D|Z6+++|D
[  3 4      ]Fr6/ / / / __A|Z6+++|A
[  Ab^Maj   ]  / / / / / _E|Z4+++|E
#\ \ \ \ \ \__/ / / / / /##########
g-\ \ \ \ \____/ / / / /-Tablature-
r;;\ \ \ \______/ / / /;;;;;;;;;;;;
i---\ \ \________/ / /--Tablature--
p::::\ \__________/ /::::::::::::::

Ed Bickert with his Fender Telecaster at a Boss Brass session
Photograph Courtesy of Fernando Gelbard: http://sibemol.com/
(All Rights Reserved)

 Oh, yeah ...
 The 1950's and 1960's in Toronto, Ontario, Canada was the place
for the talent of guitarist Ed Bickert. Once he honed and 
expanded his skills, he fit into a wide field of professional 
opportunities both in jazz circles, and the TV and recording 
 CBC Television has some choice "hair-cut gallery" moments of
Ed playing on broadcasts, and, (a children's broadcast staple)
like "The Friendly Giant"  was probably as good a place to hear 
Ed play guitar, if invisibly, in the animal troubador band?
  Ed Bickert went on to become a first call studio player in 
Toronto, for years, but, like others, discovered his talent at 
odds with subsequent fashions.  Despite the lucrative years 
(that saw his family home with a guitar-shaped pool ...?),
Bickert made a point of stepping away from projects that had 
tedious vamps, and the like. He stayed close to live performance
with the groups led by clarinetist Phil Nimmons, and flutist/saxist
 Moe Koffman.
 In the late 1960's, trombonist/arranger Rob McConnell had Ed
 join The Boss Brass, a modest recording project that eventually
transformed into a 4-decade jazz band with a play-for-fun 
philosophy. The prohibitive first-call status of Toronto's best
brass and reed players made it a rare-appearance oufit, but, it 
gave breath to charts by McConnell and other local arrangers. Ed 
Bickert may well have been the sole permanent member of the Boss 
Brass rythym section, and always a featured soloist.
 According to Gene Lees, the writer/lyricist, so respected was 
his sense of pitch, and intonation, it was Boss Brass horn 
players' practice to tune up to Ed Bickert's guitar!
 Along the way, this pragmatic man got a Fender Telecaster
for the common sounds of pop/commercial gigs, but his Gibson Arch-top
went out of his personal choice, for a variety of reasons. Anyone
who's banged their knee on an Archtop guitar case for months, or
years could sympathize, although the slab-like Tele case is no 
picnic either. Bickert's admitted to maybe having left the case
in his car's trunk, a few too many nights, after gigs.
 [In additional gear:
 A], Bickert seemed to have eschewed his old Standel tube guitar
 amplifier after the end of the 1970's,  favouring a Roland 
solid -state guitar amp for the rigors  of travel. It added a 
PING sound to his single note attack, in your host's 
 B] Bickert had lately played through an Evans amp, in later years
 according to a Canadian Musician magazine guitarists' survey,
May/June 2005.
 C] Medium gauge strings...]/
 Over the years, from the above mentioned Ron Collier session with
featured guest Duke Ellington, to the Paul Desmond sessions of
the mid-70's and beyond, Ed has performed with many American 
jazz musicians, in Toronto and elsewhere; Sonny Rollins whose 
fondness for old songs might be right up Bickert's alley, the
gruff, melodic Ruby Braff, (a former Tal Farlow boss) the 
vibraphonist Red Norvo, the tragic trombone figure Frank 
Rosolino, another pioneer, vibraphonist Milt Jackson ,and singer 
Rosemary Clooney. Near the end of Dizzy Gillespie's life, the 
innovative trumpeter played with Moe Koffman's band in the 80's.
 I saw them play the second time, they came around to my home 
town. (Dizzy Gillespie's luggage had been sent further away  to 
St. John's Newfoundland, a friend told me. HE was not happy 
about that ... which he reflected on stage in a curtly
scatological moment.)
 Travel was not a priority to Bickert, the family man, whose Moe 
Koffman tours may have been the regular departure, over the 
years. A better appreciation of Ed Bickert's shying from the 
road, is found in BOOGIE, PETE, AND THE SENATOR BY  Mark Miller, 
and a fuller understanding of the music in Canada, by the late 
1980's, too. But, his ~PURE DESMOND~ appearance required, maybe,
 a career shift in the 1970's, playing with the astonished 
altoist Paul Desmond at the Creed Taylor/Rudy Van Gelder enclave
in the States. From there, Ed gained a wider audience, reluctance
giving way to the boyhood dream of just playing like his heroes, 
perhaps, who made their mark that way, too. 
See Also http://www.puredesmond.ca/
 When the stylist Paul Desmond, like Bickert a cigarette smoker,
was starting out to play (in the mid-'70's), after a dry spell, 
he was heading to Toronto to work, and asked old pal Jim Hall
about joining him. The venerable guitar master had to pass, 
having other work to do, but recommended his friend, the 
Canadian Ed Bickert, and company. Desmond was famously and 
pleasantly surprised by Ed's musical approach, and whisked
Bickert off for the above mentioned session, with Modern Jazz 
Quartet drummer Connie Kay, and the esteemed bassist 
Ron Carter.
 ~The Paul Desmond Quartet LIVE~ is part music, part character
 Bassist Don Thompson had recorded (while performing)  
various sets of the Paul Desmond Quartet "live" with drummer 
Jerry Fuller rounding out the side, and this turned out to be a 
definitive Desmond musical folio before his death. Desmond's 
own liner notes are well worth reading, for the respect and 
wonder Bickert elicited from the worldly saxist. Don Thompson
has noted, otherwise, how West Coast American guitarists lined
up to hear that group, in San Francisco, and puzzled at Bickert's
fluid harmonic mastery, well beyond their plug-and-play talents.
 Desmond, knowingly near his life's end, remarked to one 
Toronto jazz promoter, "Well, at least I got to play with Ed 
   Not a pushy self promoter, in the 1970's age of "Jazz Rock
Fusion", no less, Bickert's style might be the opposite of say, 
John McLaughlin's heralded impact, back then. But, Bickert took a trip
 to Fredericton, New Brunswick, to teach "Jazz Guitar" at a Music 
clinic that his old friend Phil Nimmons was leading, and that's how 
your page-host met him (see Part I) and heard Bickert in concert.
 Ed Bickert did travel with Don Thompson around the end of the 1970's 
as far as The North Sea Fest, and also with an insistent
Milt Jackson, to Japan! Much later, he was to go to 
Brazil for a warmly received appearance as a member of a 
Canadian musical delegation.
 If you had to have one album that shows Bickert's strengths 
though, it would be Ed Bickert/Don Thompson (Sackville 4005). 
The evident harmonic skills, and love of the song shines here.
Concord Jazz Records founded by Carl Jefferson, has a wider 
catalogue of Ed Bickert's experiences.
 He found appreciative ears when he recorded with the American singer
Rosemary Clooney, on several albums.
 For many years, his own albums have featured a variety of 
Canadian musicians, drawn from the Toronto area, and he 
continued a musical friendship with trombonist Rob McConnell into
duet, and trios .
 The younger guitarist Lorne Lofsky has also performed in 
various settings with Ed Bickert, long a student of the master's
sound, well enough to make his own statements.
 In the winter of 1995, a very Canadian accident, a fall on
winter's ice and snow, broke parts of both Bickert's arms, so he
was lucky to recover through therapy, and returned to playing,
but it seemed to have affected him physically, logically,
  in the long term. 
 September 1995 saw Bickert playing at a live studio concert
(part of an interview with CBC Radio's Peter Gzowski) featuring 
vibist Peter Appleyard, celebrating the ex-pat Englishman's 50 
years in music. Gzowski considerately asked  Bickert about the 
injuries, which did not seem to effect his playing, that 
day, with the vibist, and bassist Pat Collins.
 Ed Bickert said, "It's a little stiff, but we're getting there"
 Adding, "...broke my left wrist , and my right elbow at the 
same time".
 "Not a smart thing, for a guitar player..." noted Gzowski.
 " No. Definitely, I won't do that again." , Bickert wryly asserted.
 Singer-songwriter Shirley Eikhard was evidently pleased to 
record a project with Bickert on electric guitar, some time back,
that was added in scope by a Bravo! Canada TV broadcast, well worth 
catching on cable. 
 Saxophonist Mike Murley, drummer Barry Elmes, and bassist Steve
 Wallace, all younger Canadian musicians, have also worked with
 Ed Bickert, in various recording and live performing situations.
 One trio recording, ~<Live At The Senator~ on Cornerstone
(CRST CD113 Cornerstone) with saxophonist Mike Murley, and 
bassist Scott Wallace,  from Toronto,  shows the consistent 
sense of interplay Bickert thrived on.
 Electric guitarist Ed Bickert effectively retired in the 21st
 A tribute concert, in late October 2004, in the city of 
Hamilton, Ontario, was sponsored by the Steeltown Friends Of 
Mohawk Jazz, at Mohawk College. Featuring many of his "students",
prominently guitarists Lorne Lofsky, Reg Schwager, and Geoff 
Young, many experienced staff instructors (many were old 
collegues of Bickert's), and the college's own music students, an 
evening's presentation gratefully expressed the admiration in 
which Ed Bickert's held. He has arthritis, so he did not play, but
 attended this "do" in his honour.
 Thank you, Ed, indeed.
 On a current note, in 2006, Ed Bickert's even made it to the 
Internet's  You Tube, courtesy of some fans' video captures from TV. 

Part I: Ed Bickert Guitar Workshop
Part II:Ed Bickert, Pluck, if Not Adventure
Part III: Ed Bickert, Tune, Tone, and Tempo

Written By Sandy Freeze (a.k.a.: strumdabiz)


2 Other Canadian sites
 Ed Bickert Profile

A Curmudge(on)'s Ed Bickert tribute
Mike Quigley's Boss Brass Page ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Recommended Bibliography: ~ JACK BATTEN
  • "The Toronto Land Band" by Jack Batten,
     Weekend Magazine,
    (Globe and Mail), March 6, 1976 
    (on Rob McConnell ,Ed Bickert ,& Paul Desmond ,in Toronto)
  • "Playing It Safe" by Jack Batten,
     The Canadian (supplement) Dec. 31, 1977
Jack Litchfield
  • The Canadian Jazz Discography 1916-1980
     Jack Litchfield
     University Of Toronto Press
  • "Ed Bickert" by Mark Miller
    Toronto's Premiere Session Guitarist And Jazz Performer, 
    Guitar Player September, 1978
  • "Bickert takes record deal in stride", by Mark Miller,
    The Globe And Mail,February 18,1984
  • "Ed Bickert: In a Mellow Tone" by Mark Miller, Down Beat, November 1984
  • "Boogie , Pete, and the Senator" by Mark Miller Nightwood Editions
  • "ED Bickert" Interviewed By Ted O'Reilly, CODA Magazine,#184, June 1982

____________Strumdabiz_____G Major
~E_A_D_G_B_E~       ______E|r3+++|E
{- - 0 0 0 -}Nut   / _____B|a0+++|B
[- -       -]     / / ____G|m0+++|G
[- 2        ]    / / / ___D|Z0+++|D
[3         4]   / / / / __A|Z2+++|A
[ grips     ]  / / / / / _E|Z3+++|E
#\ \ \ \ \ \__/ / / / / /##########
g-\ \ \ \ \____/ / / / /-Tablature-
r;;\ \ \ \______/ / / /;;;;;;;;;;;;
i---\ \ \________/ / /--Tablature--
p::::\ \__________/ /::::::::::::::

Back to strumdabiz's Home Page
Thanks For Visiting!
[ Yahoo! ] options
Hosted by www.Geocities.ws