Ed Bickert, born in 1932, in Manitoba, Canada, has long been recognized as one of Canada's premier jazz guitarists. After his arrival in Toronto in the 1950's he quickly rose to prominence as a studio and session player. It was only after twenty years of steady contribution to the jazz scene in Toronto that he was exposed to American audiences. When Paul Desmond accepted an engagement at Bourbon Street, a Toronto nightspot, guitarist Jim Hall recommended that he sign on Bickert as part of his rhythm section. Desmond was so impressed with Bickert's playing that he used him on his next recording, Pure Desmond. That recording exposed Ed Bickert to a broader American audience and started a succession of US based recordings that continue today.
What Paul Desmond discovered in Ed Bickert's playing in 1974 was a very full, chordal style that caused him, as he said in the liner notes of The Paul Desmond Quartet Live, to turn "… around several times a night to count the strings on his guitar". It is this chordal style that has become the hallmark of Bickert's playing and has drawn comparisons to George Van Eps and Ted Greene. And, although an Ed Bickert chord is instantly recognized, it is the overall musicianship of this guitarist that sets him apart. This is especially evident in the recordings he has made under the Concord Record label such as I Wished On The Moon and Bye Bye Baby, and especially Third Floor Richard. On these recordings Bickert really steps out and demonstrates the richness, subtlety and complexity of the music he coaxes from his old worn Telecaster whether he’s comping chords or playing single string melodies.
Jim Hall had known about Ed Bickert for many years before he recommended him to Desmond. Like another Canadian guitarist Lennie Breau, Bickert had already established a reputation for himself with guitarists outside of Canada. And, it's almost certain that Hall recognized in Bickert a musician who was dedicated to developing his skills while developing a unique approach to the jazz guitar, two characteristics other guitar players instantly recognize and value.
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