Guitarist Ed Bickert:
In June 1978,
gives a Jazz Guitar Workshop

By Sandy Freeze a.k.a.: strumdabiz

Part I: Ed Bickert, a 1978 guitar workshop

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

____________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::::\ \__________/ /::::::::::::::

 INTRO : Host Strumdabiz's Personal Digression:
 In 1978, I was 23 years old, and since my teens,  a fan of 
guitarists Charley Christian, John McLaughlin (especially),
 and The Allman Brothers Band, with a quiet appreciation
 of classical guitarist Julian Bream's LP "The Baroque Guitar". 
 Aside from a "longtime" appreciation of CBC's radio host Don 
Warner and his tasteful ~Wax Works~, its unlikely I had paid any 
attention to Paul Desmond's recent demise let alone, the current
post-mortem recording releases of the alto saxophonist,
featuring a Canadian guitarist named Ed Bickert.

 A guitarist since 1970, my early formal guitar studies gave me an
interesting slant on the right hand attack , picking vs. 
plucking: when I walked into a music/teaching store with a copy 
of "Frederick Noad's Solo Guitar Playing" (p i m a)and 
eventually left with 'Berklee Modern Method for the Guitar". 
(K\/k) + r_a_m

This led to a haphazard combination, over the years, of using
flatpick and 3-fingers, that upon hearing (the late) Lenny 
Breau live (with his fluid thumb pick and 4-finger roll) in 
1972, only cemented. That little right finger 
did come in so handy, mostly on the treble strings!
  In early 1978, I met Charley R. the boyfriend of a singer I 
was rehearsing with. A guitarist, a year my senior, a soft-
spoken musician who played loud rock 'n' roll, but demonstrated 
some wider musical tastes at home by playing, for me, an album 
by Moe Koffman,  featuring guitarist Ed Bickert. Quiet stuff, 
compared to "The Mahavishnu Orchestra", or "The Allman Brothers 
Band: Live at Fillmore East", at their top speeds and dynamics!
 Maybe it was a cheap stereo that Charley had? I took a pass, 
on listening to this jazz guitarist, Canadian Ed Bickert, and 
soon lived to experience chagrin. 
 It was a late June Saturday, about 3-4 months later. Returning 
from a shopping trip to our provincial capital, I stopped off 
at the tavern where Charley and his band were playing a 
matinee. With a copy of teaching legend Ted Greene's book 
"Chord Chemistry"  in my knapsack, no less, and the album
 "Johnny McLaughlin, Electric Guitarist", amongst other 
LP's, and  songbooks I'd bought that day, I was strangely 
indifferent to the capital's upcoming annual Jazz fest that 
year, for having enjoyed Dave Brubeck, and Phil Nimmon's 'N 
Nine, there the previous two years. (Didn't I spot the posters?)
 Back south, in the home town "tav'", I mentioned to my 
friend's bandmates that I had just been north, to which one 
replied "Oh, Charley's going up there, Monday, to go to a Jazz 
guitar workshop. " 'Hmmm', I wondered, 'what's the guy up to? 
Who is giving the clinic?' When Charley explained, with some 
reference to the Koffman LP no doubt, that Ed Bickert was 
giving it, I took note. 
 Sunday, next day, I read in our local paper that the master jazz
guitarist  Ed Bickert was indeed a respected and very 
accomplished peer of the jazz guitar world.  His chordal craft 
was the target of this praise, and it'd be quite an opportunity 
to learn from him.
 I hopped up the road, hitch-hiking all the way, ditching my 
summer job duties for most of the week. I soon arrived at the 
Fredericton campus of The University of New Brunswick, at about 
10:30 AM, Monday, hastily scurrying in the famed flame of early 
summer heat, up to an old building on the campus. 
 {Clarinetist Phil Nimmons was responsible for the whole Music 
clinic, at large}
 Outside, a middle aged man, in a light shirt, was lighting up a 
cigarette. I supposed he could have been the janitor, or to 
parpahrase my high school principal recalling a trip to his old 
English school: " ...might well have been, the man come to 
change the lights". Climbing the short stairs, and entering the 
century-old building, I found the week-long music clinic's 
admission desk and paid the modest fee. Inside a room nearby, 
guitars were sounding, there was pal Charley playing a beat-up 
Telcaster, not his guitar of late. Other guitarists in the room 
were familiar to me, if I didn't know them personally. One in 
particular, probably the most respected guitar talent at home, 
David Kindred, I'd heard just a month or two before , at that 
same tavern, where I'd dropped in Saturday. Another was a 
classically oriented musician who I'd heard at a folk club, the 
year or two before.
 The "janitor" walked in and retrieved the "Tele" from Charley,
packing it away in his case; the workshop was over the day. This 
was Ed Bickert. Whether I introduced myself that day or not, I 
forget. I do remember jabbering away to Charley and whoever else 
was listening about the McLaughlin album I'd bought, with its
blistering fusion (post-Shakti) electric guitar, and a lovely
version Of "My Foolish Heart"( his tribute to Tal Farlow).
 Charley, David, Jean-Claude (a bandmate of Dave's) and I 
piled into Jean-Claude's car and pulled away for lunch.
 The next day, I got up there with a guitar or two, and took in
the second workshop. Everyone got to play with Ed, after playing
a song alone, maybe.  At this point, I'll confess I'd only played
guitar at one professional gig, aside from jamming with people 
like Charley, who had loaned me his "home" amp (a microphonic 
Fender Twin, God bless his heart ...), for that gig. 
 There were Charley , David, Jean-Claude, Steve the 'classical',
player, Peter the lounge musician, and a younger guitarist I 
never caught the name of. Jean-Claude or Charley had set up the 
tape recorder that perched on a guitar amp. Peter's choice 
of "Con Alma" was one of the examples that lasted to a cassette 
later made for me. 
 (I like to limit listening to this tape every couple of years.)
 A brilliant shifty chromatic harmony floats through this Dizzy 
Gillespie tune, and for a guitarist, its E Major tonality flies
away after a couple of beats. Peter lasted through the "head" 
but his rockish blues roots soloing sounded like a canoist "on 
the rocks", while Ed glided down, center stream.
 The man ...ain't a "talker". But, he's quiet spoken, and thoughtful.
 It may have been Ed Bickert's first workshop, at that, and the 
process of giving a verbal scope, to the guts of his approach 
and values, distilled to deft musical demonstrations of what Ted 
Greene might have, blissfully, spent pages of "grid" drawing out. 
 As he said in a then-current interview with a local paper, it 
was tough explaining things to us, which he'd learned "by 
osmosis". But, we had NO complaints!
 He plays "My Foolish Heart" on the tape, too. I had to wonder,
years later, if my "jabbering" about McLaughlin's lush version 
had reached Ed's ears in the foyer on Monday ?
 He made it clear, have a good understanding of a tune,it's 
melody and changes, and go by what the bass player was offering .

~`                        `~
~`                        `~
 Just tuning up, Bickert displayed ease spelling triads, and 
more colourful voicings, up and down the neck, but not to the 
point of saying Root_third_fifth etc. That kind of thing will 
probably come to any curious guitarist who does his "homework" 
it seems. 
........~`     '     '     '     '      '     `~........
........~`      '     '     '     '     '     `~........

~`     The Duke           `~
~`                        `~
 As he discussed some Major 7th sounds, the above passage served
as a just one example of the great sense of harmonic possiblities
Bickert loved to explore, just in fact. Switching immediately
from some close-voiced 7th(?) clusters, to their wide-voiced
contrast here, demonstrated his flexibility.
 Some imaginative twists above, show in the harmonization of the 
melody, with descending open voices in parallel, from scalar 
options of this opening phrase.
 When  a tune by Dave Brubeck, "The Duke" dances out,  you hear 
Bickert's most casual grace on a progression that, like "Con 
Alma",  slides through many tonal centres.( Dave Kindred said  
that he liked the tune so much, he learned to play it on piano!)
 Ed's Fender Telecaster is a most unlikely choice for playing, 
some observers have thought. Many in his field played the arch-
top hollow body guitar family, that Wes Montgomery, Barney 
Kessel, Herb Ellis, Tal Farlow, & Jim Hall were known for. Ed is
not heard on that much after the 70's I'd guess. I may have even
suggested (talking to him later that year), that he and Ted 
Nugent should trade guitars?  However, this cutaway neck guitar
has the access to higher frets that makes fuller high range 
harmonies possible.
 It may have been the warm tone that Bickert coaxes, from the
 "Tele", an instrument easily associated with piercing timbres 
in louder contexts, that made the sum of the parts whole.
 Shy, after hearing the other talent at first, I found it was 
now my turn! I had taken a stab, months before at playing an old
pop novelty song "Ain't She Sweet" , by ear, bereft of a 
recording or (yet) sheet music. I'd fractured the melody in A Major,
inexplicably,  playing these first three notes a whole tone 
lower in the (wrong) harmony!
~`                                 `                `~
~`                `                `                `~

     VERSUS (right refrain)
~`                        `~
~`                                 `                `~

 Head down, I offered  my modest but warped chord-melody of the 
refrain, and it's III-VI-II-V7 bridge, with a couple of choice 
3rd-in the bass notes inspired by John McLaughlin's "Dance of 
Maya", no doubt (don't ask!) . 
This seem to break the ice for me, oblivious to  Ed or anyone's 
reaction. I also played a blues duet, of sort with Ed. Ripping
off a combination of the (former John Handy side-man) Jerry 
Hahn, and (New York jazz session staple) Barry Galbraith 4/4 
walking-bass-chord "comps" in 'F' (derived from their articles
in Down Beat and Guitar Player magazine), I hobbled along , 
while Ed jumped in with a cogent melody, smoothly playing what 
the recording of that day revealed to my ears in later years, 
was Ornette Coleman's "Turnaround"!
 Too hip for the room, Ed!

~`   that comp...?'   TEMPO!       `~
~`                '                `~

 My unsteady comp was not something to write home about! However, 
Charley told me (later) that Bickert smiled when I played solo. 
But, somewhere around then,  Ed reached into his pocket, hauled 
out his wallet, and pulled out a folded page. He showed me this 
neat-and-tidy handwritten list of songs, at least two hundred, 
I'd guess, that he'd be confident to say he knew. In later 
years, a reviewer was to remark about Bickert's song choices for 
recording, that he must have just such a list in his pocket, 
when he goes to record, of otherwise widely-neglected gems of 
 It is a long regret of mine that I didn't run, clutching the 
list to a photo-copier down the hall, as I had when Dave 
Kindred passed around his transcribed  "grid" Tab of Ed's 
chorus of 'Georgia On My Mind'. I did get Ed to autograph that!
 One tune he alluded to briefly, a old Barney Kessel "blues" 
struck me as similar to the latter-day fusion hit, Joe Zawinul's 
Birdland, for it's counterpoint melody and bassline.
 I'd never liked to remember this, if only out of petty minded envy.
 Bickert mentioned to us guitarists at least one talent back in 
Toronto who'd impressed him currently, a young guitarist Reg Schwager 
who it appears has exhibited the mutual respect for Bickert, 
over the years, that warrants the gigs with many in the older
guitarist's musical circle. 
 Ed's trio with bassist Don Thompson and drummer Terry Clarke 
played that week at the Jazz fest, and I learned to appreciate 
guitarists other than John McLaughlin, whom I was to hear live 
one year later, just after hearing Count Basie, with the 
venerable guitarist Freddie Greene, in California.
 A week later, after the workshop, I sold my copy of "Chord 
Chemistry", which I think was dedicated to Ed Bickert and two 
other guitar masters. I thought I'd had a master class from the
source. (In 2005, Ted Greene passed away, causing me to reflect 
on my hastiness in discarding this material he'd amassed from his
studies of guitar and harmony.)
 That summer Ed Bickert was the subject of a GUITAR PLAYER
 magazine article; September 1978, with Led Zepplin string-sters 
Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones on the cover) It was neat to see 
him being recognized, as though I'd known his talent for ages!
 I got to hear Ed again, 6 months later, out west in Edmonton, 
Alberta,  at the falafel-rich Hot Box, playing with Moe Koffman's
 I walked in, with a closer crop haircut than that summer, waved 
at Ed, and he said "Hello, Sandy!".  Made my day! The next time, 
quite soon, I heard him was with the bassist Dave young and 
pianist Wray Downes, at a jazz club  The Palms Cafe, (a vegetarian
 restaurant by day.)
 This particular club was a center-of-town heir to the older
 YARDBIRD SUITE's long standing jazz history of jazz 
appearances  some eventually promoted by the Edmonton JAzz 
  As it had happened, the first guitarist that I'd caught playing
live in Edmonton, was Brian Hughes, uptown at the ~Boiler Lounge~
 and later that winter on the campus of the ~University of 
Alberta~, near where I lived. He lived right across the alley 
from me, albeit, I didn't know that for many months! He and I 
talked, at a student lounge, about Ed Bickert, who he'd recently
got to study a bit with too, in Alberta, perhaps in Banff. 
 Small world.
 Hughes has continued to perform:
As for me, that's enough about me, way too much.

_Part I: Ed Bickert Guitar Workshop
To my Ed Bickert biography
Part II: Ed Bickert, Pluck, If Not Adventure
Part III: Ed Bickert, Tune,Tone, And Tempo
____________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::::\ \__________/ /::::::::::::::

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