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This project was made possible by funding through the Canadian Culture Online Strategy and the Heritage Policy Branch of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Canadian Heritage

Ed Bickert

Biography

EDWARD ISAAC (ED) BICKERT (guitarist) was born November 29, 1932 in Hochfeld, Manitoba, Canada, and raised in the farming and fruit-growing community around Vernon, British Columbia. The guitar legend likely appeared in more “Sound of Toronto Jazz” Concerts than any other musician throughout the first three decades of the Series’ existence. Whether as a sideman or leading one of his own all-star ensembles, his inspired and sensitive performances raised every group he worked with to new standards of excellence.

Universally regarded as a guitar genius, Bickert was largely self-taught, developing an interest in jazz harmony by studying Stan Kenton recordings. In his early teens he gained experience playing onstage with his mother at the piano and his fiddle-playing father. He moved to Toronto in 1952, and it was only there he took some formal music training, becoming a regular club performer by 1955 and remaining at the vanguard of the Canadian and international jazz scenes for the remainder of his performing career.

He made his first studio recording on Moe Koffman’s unlikely hit single Swinging Shepherd Blues, and quickly became a regular member of the Moe Koffman Quintet, occupying the group’s guitar chair throughout its time-honored lifetime. He was also a charter member and featured soloist with Rob McConnell and The Boss Brass, and a key player with Phil Nimmons’ bands for decades. In 1974, the renowned Paul Desmond sought out Bickert to form a quartet which marked the launch of what would become a consequential international recording career.

Ed Bickert injured both of his arms in an accidental fall in the mid 1990s, and although after a time away from the jazz scene he recovered and resumed playing and touring for a period of time, he retired permanently from public performance early this century.

The Canadian jazz community came together on November 6, 2012 to celebrate Ed Bickert's 80th birthday with a concert at the Glenn Gould Studio. The concert featured performances by Oliver Gannon, Jake Langley, Lorne Lofsky, Chris Norley, David Occhipinti, Michael Occhipinti, Reg Shwager, and Ted Quinlan, as well as saxophonist Mike Murley, drummers Barry Elmes and Terry Clarke, bassists Steve Wallace and Neil Swainson, multi-instrumentalist Don Thompson and trumpeter Kevin Turcotte.

Soon after Ed's actual birthday on November 29th, Cornerstone Records released a new CD by Mike Murley, Ed Bickert, and Steve Wallace entittled "Test of Time". Although the material was orginally recorded in 1999, the material was recently discovered and digitized for release. The recording won a JUNO Award in 2013.

Awards:

1980 - Juno Award for Best Jazz Album to Ed Bickert and Don Thompson for Sackville 4005
1996 - Named a Member of the Order of Canada, the highest civilian honour given in this country, granted to Canadian citizens '"for outstanding achievement and service to the country or to humanity at large".
2013 - JUNO Award for 'Traditional Jazz Album' for the Murley/Bickert/Wallace album "Test of Time"

Named ‘Jazz Guitarist of the Year’ innumerable times by The Jazz Report Magazine and during the National Jazz Awards throughout his playing career.

Played on dozens of JUNO- and Grammy-nominated and Award-winning recordings.