In 1952 Ed moved to Toronto, working as a radio station engineer and playing after-hours jazz clubs on the side. Shy and retiring, he was slow to work himself into the Toronto jazz circuit, but by 1955 he was a regular club performer -- and in 1957, he made his first studio recording date, appearing on Moe Koffman's fluke hit single Swinging Shepherd Blues.
In the 60s, Ed worked regularly with Koffman and other major figures of Canadian jazz. He was invited to be a founding member of Rob McConnell's Boss Brass in 1968 and has played with that unit ever since, as well as becoming increasingly in demand as a session guitarist.
In 1974, on the recommendation of the legendary
Jim Hall, the equally legendary
Paul Desmond sought out Ed to form a performing quartet,
marking Desmond's return to the musical stage after an absence of seven years.
Desmond, a jazz star who had seen the world and played with the best, was
utterly blown away by Ed's playing, and determined to record with him; this
marked Ed's first session for an American label, with consequent wider exposure.
During the next three years [Desmond's last], the Desmond-Bickert quartet
performed frequently, and many of these gigs were recorded. (Lucky for us!
Paul and Ed brought out the best in each other, and their records together
constitute a high-water mark in jazz.)
In 1979, Ed recorded a duo album with his fellow Desmond Quartet alumnus Don Thompson -- the album won the 1980 Juno Award for Best Jazz Recording of the Year.
In the 80s, Ed continued to work regularly with Koffman and McConnell.
he signed with
Concord Jazz Records, which meant even greater exposure
in the States. For Concord, he frequently backed up
Rosemary Clooney, toured with the Concord Jazz All-Stars, and
[finally] began to record as a session leader on a regular basis.
In 1983, Ed also became co-leader of a dual-guitar quartet with Lorne Lofsky, an arrangement that lasted a full ten years.
The 90s have seen Ed go on unstoppably -- working with Canada's jazz
élite, hotly sought after by fellow musicians but shunning the limelight,
playing like God on that same old, worn, creamy-yellow
And finally, on January 7, 1997, our Governor-General appointed Ed as a Member of the Order of Canada in recognition of his "distinguished service" to Canadian music. This entitles Ed to wear a medal like the one pictured over there, and to append to his name the honorific CM. (Chances are he greeted the news with an "aw shucks" worthy of Gary Cooper...)
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