RIP, Ed Bickert | Ottawa Citizen

Canadian jazz guitar icon Ed Bickert, famend virtually as a lot for his quiet, self-effacing persona as for his mellow, impeccable means together with his Fender Telecaster, died on Thursday. He was 86.

Until his retirement in 2000, the Manitoba-born musician was Toronto’s high guitarist for nearly 5 many years. His masterful taking part in, heard with Paul Desmond, Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass, Don Thompson and Moe Koffman, would have solid a wider spell among the many world’s jazz followers if Bickert had had a better urge for food for touring and the limelight. “I was born to be a side man,” Bickert as soon as mentioned.

Bickert grew up in Vernon, B.C., in a musical household. His father and mom performed the piano and fiddle at nation dances.

In 1952, the guitarist moved to Toronto to pursue his profession, working initially as a radio station engineer, after which edging his means onto the music scene by way of session work and taking part in the golf equipment.

“Bickert quietly established himself as the city’s top dog guitarist,” mentioned a 2012 Toronto Star profile of Bickert, which marked his 80th birthday. “International stars Bickert accompanied — from alto sax Paul Desmond to vibraphonist Milt Jackson to Rosemary Clooney — inevitably had to talk him into touring and then for only a limited time.”

Between 1975 and 2000, Bickert recorded greater than a dozen albums as a frontrunner. One of Bickert’s most elegant sideman recordings is the traditional 1975 album Paul Desmond Quartet Live, recorded at Bourbon Street in Toronto.

In the liner notes of that album, Desmond wrote that he would usually flip round and take a look at Bickert whereas on-stage to ”rely the strings on Ed’s guitar … how does he get to play refrain after refrain of chord sequences which couldn’t presumably sound higher on a keyboard?”

In 1996, he was invested as a member of the Order of Canada for his contributions to the performing arts.

Bickert performed small membership gigs and pageant live shows in Ottawa by way of the years till his retirement. He informed an Ottawa Citizen interview earlier than an early 2000 look:  “Some jazz individuals can simply go forward and do their factor no matter noise or distractions, however that’s arduous for me. I’ve to have a good quantity of consideration and quiet to actually play properly.’

Bickert was famend for his harmonic mastery, and confessed to the Citizen interviewer than concord fascinated him.

”I actually benefit from the harmonic side of music — not simply jazz, however nation and classical,” Bickert mentioned. ”The concord actually turns me on, so I attempt to discover issues on the guitar which might be extra attention-grabbing harmonically than a few of the primary grips.”

Unlike many a jazz musician that performs till the top, Bickert shocked and saddened jazz followers when he stop taking part in in 2000. He informed the Toronto Star in 2012, “In 2000, my wife (Madeline) passed away, and I had arthritis and other problems which I got through. There just comes a time you don’t want to do it anymore.”

There was a star-studded live performance in November 2012 in Toronto to mark Bickert’s 80th birthday. Bickert’s guitar was on stage, however Bickert was not. “I would hardly know how to hold the guitar,” Bickert informed the Star.

“Jazz is imperfect but Ed gets as close to perfection as it gets,” bassist/pianist Thompson, Bickert’s collaborator for many years, informed the Star.

On Facebook Saturday morning, musicians from throughout Canada paid tribute to Bickert.

Vancouver bassist and guitarist Andre Lachance wrote: “RIP Ed Bickert. An enormous thank you for your artistry and influence and contributions to culture. There literally is a little bit (or a lot) of Ed in every jazz guitar player in this country. Rarely has someone had that kind of influence on the practice of an instrument … true mastery.”

Gatineau, Que. guitarist Roland Doucet wrote: “I had a beautiful alternative in Halifax round 1980 to listen to him 5 nights in a row, entrance row centre in a brand new jazz supper membership that lasted just a few months.

“As poor as I used to be, I used to be within the entrance desk each evening. (Often questioned, when will that cigarette ash drop, and can he ever play a ‘grip’ — his phrase for chord — that I acknowledge.

“Amazing artist. Amazing fingers. Best to me when working with a band, however solo was clearly unimaginable. A grasp.”

In an interview, Montreal jazz guitarist and Juno Award winner Mike Rud recalled that Bickert was the primary jazz guitarist that he ever noticed carry out, in Grand Prairie, Alta., with Dizzy Gillespie and Moe Koffman, within the early 1980s.

“Jazz guitarists around the world rightly revere Ed Bickert,” Rud mentioned. “But for Canadian jazz guitarists, I believe he was the very voice of impeccable musical judgement — when to play, when to not.

“That’s earlier than you even get to his chord strategy, which was model new, science-fiction stage know-how to all of us. Listening to his chord work, guitarists are left feeling like they’re watching somebody fill out the New York Times crossword puzzle, all completely appropriately, and with many deeply satisfying, sudden twists. Then within the subsequent refrain, he erases all that, and fills it out all once more with completely different, every-bit-as-perfect solutions, time and again. Enchanting and infuriating.

“So a lot in order that it’s simple to overlook his single-note soloing, the chic unfailingly swinging storytelling that made him an beautiful bandmate for Paul Desmond.

“All being performed on a solid-body Telecaster, from which he coaxed a sound that might be the envy of any hollow-body participant.

“I bought to fulfill him a few instances solely, and play simply a few tunes with him. I nonetheless play stuff I noticed him play that day virtually each single evening. He was nice and soft-spoken. He’ll be greater than missed.”

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