Ed Bickert

Ed (Edward Isaac) Bickert. Guitarist, b Hochfeld, south of Winnipeg, 29 Nov 1932. Raised in Vernon, BC, he took up the guitar at eight and first played with his father, an oldtime fiddler, and his mother, a pianist, in a country dance band.

Bickert, Ed

Ed (Edward Isaac) Bickert. Guitarist, b Hochfeld, south of Winnipeg, 29 Nov 1932. Raised in Vernon, BC, he took up the guitar at eight and first played with his father, an oldtime fiddler, and his mother, a pianist, in a country dance band. He moved in 1952 to Toronto, working until 1955 as a radio engineer on CFRB while playing at such after-hours jazz clubs as the House of Hambourg. His few lessons with Tony Bradan were his only formal training.

Bickert, who has conducted his career with a degree of reticence that belies both his accomplishments and his international reputation, was a member in the 1950s of Norman Symonds' jazz octet and worked 1954-66 with Ron Collier and 1957-70 with Phil Nimmons. He has played in most of Moe Koffman's successive jazz groups, beginning ca 1956, and in the Boss Brass, beginning in 1968, continuing with both in 1991. Concurrently he worked in Toronto studios until the early 1970s and has performed intermittently with the groups of Peter Appleyard, Hagood Hardy, and others, and in duos with Don (W.) Thompson and Rob McConnell. A Bickert-Thompson LP of duets (Sack 4005) received the Juno Award for the best jazz recording of 1979.

Bickert formed his own trio ca 1974, initially with Thompson (bass) and Terry Clarke (drums), and has been heard throughout Canada in clubs, at festivals, and on CBC radio. The trio played the Bracknell, Northsea, and Montreux jazz festivals during a European tour sponsored by RCI in 1979. With Thompson, Clarke and/or others during the 1970s and early 1980s, Bickert accompanied many US jazzmen at the Toronto club Bourbon Street, including Paul Desmond, Chet Baker, Red Norvo, Milt Jackson, and Frank Rosolino.

It was his work 1974-6 with Desmond there, on record, and in California (Monterey Jazz Festival, 1976) that first brought Bickert to international attention. In 1979 he toured with Jackson in Japan and during the 1980s he appeared on international stages with Koffman, Appleyard, and the Boss Brass, and at several festivals in Concord, Cal, with various of the US and Canadian artists with whom he had recorded for the Concord Jazz label. In 1987 he returned to Japan with the Concord All Stars. In Toronto during the 1980s Bickert also performed and recorded in a quartet setting with tenor saxophonist Rick Wilkins or guitarist Lorne Lofsky and various bassists and drummers.

Assessments of his work with Desmond included references to 'an understated eloquence matched only by such masters as Jim Hall' (Chuck Berg, Down Beat, 7 Oct 1976) and the ability to 'combine in his solos the logic of a mathematician and the grace of an angel' (Jack Batten, Globe and Mail, 7 Jul 1976). His playing, rooted in bebop and influenced by Tal Farlow, Barney Kessel, Jimmy Raney, and others, is characterized by its intuitive harmonic sense, lyrical and rhythmic ease and generally muted tone. Bickert taught briefly at the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto during the early 1960s, at the Banff CA 1978-80 and at the University of New Brunswick Chamber Music and Jazz Festival in 1978 and 1982. He has been a formative influence on the generation of Toronto jazz guitarists born in the 1950s and 1960s, among them Lofsky, Roy Patterson, Rob Piltch, Reg Schwager, and Geoff Young.


Ed Bickert. Thompson double-bass, Clarke drums. 1975. PMR-010

I Like to Recognize the Tune. Orch with G. Williamson keybds, Thompson double-bass and piano, Clarke drums, and others. 1977. CTL CTLS-5206/United Artists UALA-747G.

Jazz Canada Europe '79. Thompson double-bass, Clarke drums. 1979, 5-RCI 503-E/F

Ed Bickert/Don Thompson. Thompson double-bass. 1978. Sack 4005

Dance to the Lady. Thompson double-bass, piano. 1980. Sack 4010

Mutual Street. McConnell valve trombone. 1982-4. Innovation JC-0009

The Ed Bickert Quartet at Toronto's Bourbon Street. Vaché cornet, Hamilton tenor saxophone, Wallace double-bass, Hanna drums. 1983. Concord Jazz CJ-216

Bye Bye Baby. McKenna p, Wallace double-bass, Hanna drums. 1983. Concord Jazz CJ-232

The Quartet of Ed Bickert/Lorne Lofsky and Friend. Lofsky guitar, Swainson double-bass, Fuller drums. 1985. Unisson DDA-1002

I Wished Upon the Moon. Wilkins tenor saxophone, Wallace double-bass, Clarke drums. 1985. Concord Jazz CJ-284

Third Floor Richard. McKenna piano, Swainson double-bass, Clarke drums. 1989. Concord Jazz CJ-380

This is New. Lofsky guitar, Swainson double-bass, Fuller drums. 1989. Concord Jazz CJ-414 (CD and cass)

With Others

Desmond Pure Desmond. 1974. CTI 6059

- The Paul Desmond Quartet Live! Also Thompson double-bass, Fuller drums. 1975. 2-Horizon 850

- Paul Desmond. Also Thompson and Fuller. 1975. Artists House AH-2

Rosolino Thinking About You. Rosolino trombone, Thompson double-bass, Clarke drums. 1976. Sack 2014

Ruby Braff Ruby Braff with the Ed Bickert Trio. Braff cornet, Thompson double-bass, Clarke drums. 1979. Sack 3022

Buddy Tate The Ballad Artistry of Buddy Tate. Tate tenor saxophone, Thompson double-bass, Clarke drums. 1981. Sack 3034

Benny Carter A Gentleman and His Music. 1985. Concord Jazz CJ-285

Ken Peplowski Double Exposure. 1987. Concord Jazz CJ-344

Concord All Stars Take 8. Also Wallace double-bass. 1987. Concord Jazz CJ-347

- Ow!. Also Wallace double-bass. 1987. Concord Jazz CJ-348

Bickert was a member of small accompanying groups on Concord Jazz albums recorded 1983-7 by the singer Rosemary Clooney of songs by Harold Arlen (CJ-210; also Wallace), Irving Berlin (CJ-255), Jimmy Van Heusen (CJ-308), and Johnny Mercer (CJ-333), and of ballads (CJ-282)

Also, albums with the Boss Brass, Collier, Koffman, McConnell, Nimmons, Thompson, Peter Appleyard, Guido Basso, Trudy Desmond, Wray Downes, Humphrey Lyttelton (see Jim Galloway), Fraser MacPherson, Kathryn Moses, and Oscar Peterson. Others as a studio accompanist

Further Reading

  • McNamara, Helen. 'There must be more than just not making mistakes,' Toronto Telegram, 26 Oct 1968

    Batten, Jack. 'Playing it safe,' The Canadian, 31 Dec 1978

    Miller, Mark. 'Ed Bickert: in a mellow tone,' Down Beat, Nov 1984

    Boogie, Pete & The Senator

    Canadian Jazz Discography