Universally regarded as a guitar genius, Bickert was largely self-taught, developing an intereest 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-honoured lifetime.
Bickert was also a charter member and featured soloist with Rob McConnell and The Boss Brass, and a dey player with Phil Nimmon’s 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. In 1980, he won a Juno Award for Best Jazz Album, along with Don Thompson.
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. He retired from public performance early this century.
“Easy To Love” with Don Thompson(bass) Claude Ranger(drums)
“Never Been In Love Before”
“Jumpin’ The Blues” with Don Thompson(bass) Buff Allen(drums)
“Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me”
“You’d Be So Nice To Come Home to” with Rick Wilkins (above trio)
“Street Of Dreams” with Dave Young(bass) Terry Clarke(drums)
Photo: Arnold Matthews
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