Ed Bickert’s Chord Voicings

by | Chord Melody

In this lesson I explore the unique chord melody style of one of my favorite jazz guitarists whom I’ve always felt deserves much more recognition. I’m referring to the late Canadian guitarist, Ed Bickert (1932-2019) who not only is known by hardcore jazz guitar fans for his gorgeous chord voicings, but also for his swinging lines and warm tone. Musician Don Thompson, who played bass with Bickert from the early 1970s to the late 1990s, once said about his chords, “The inner voice movement was perfect, the logic  impeccable, every chord was the best possible chord … it was perfection all the time.”

If you happen to be among the many jazz guitar aficionados who are not familiar with him, let me share 3 noteworthy facts about Ed Bickert:

1. While everybody else was using an archtop, Ed Bickert was one of the first jazz guitarists to adopt a solid body….that is, a Fender Telecaster with a humbucker!

2. As a result of his sophisticated comping and rich chord voicings, he was often hired to back up soloists in a pianoless rhythm section. As a matter of fact, when he was with the Rob McConnell Big Band, there was no piano in the rhythm section which is highly unusual for a big band! In other words, Bickert was known for his ability to harmonically hold down the fort!

3. Whatever recognition he did obtain internationally, is probably thanks to the fact that Jim Hall highly recommended him to saxophonist Paul Desmond. As a result, Desmond introduced him to a wider audience in his recording, “Pure Desmond”. Personally, ever since I was fortunate to hear this recording back in the mid 70’s, I have made it my mission to get my hands on everything I can find with Bickert on it!

In the video I play and analyze various chord melody snippets I have transcribed from my favorite Ed Bickert solos. Believe me, it’s an info filled jazz harmony lesson! And to show you how you can apply the info over a known standard, I share with you an etude I wrote using several of the snippets over the changes to Autumn Leaves!


The “Ed Bickert Chord Melody Snippets” lesson files, can be downloaded for $10.00. The download includes the following files:  PDFs with both regular notation and detailed TAB for 13 snippets and an etude using them over “Autumn Leaves”, MP3s and Band in a Box files of everything, and also Midi files if you rather practice using  “Guitar Pro” or the free downloadable notation app: “Muse Score”.

For those that don’t use PayPal…when you click the button below, it will give you the option to pay with any major credit card without the need to sign up for PayPal.  Note that you must be logged in for the payment and download links to be visible!

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  1. Israel Montilla

    please keep me posted when you run across Ed Bickert’s story or voicings !!!!!

    • Richie Zellon

      Did you check out the transcription on Ed Bickert’s chord melody solo on Manha de Carnaval?

  2. Israel Montilla

    dear Mr. Zellon I hope all is well The reason for these short letters is because I purchase the Ed bickert Snippets pakage and it looks like I missed placed it on my Computer Ive been seaching all over and it seems that it lost, can you please verify my Name so you can be sure I paid this package already shown ;Israel Montilla You can resend it to one of these email address Israelmontilla1gmail.com or projectium@ gmail.com to address: thank you and I really apprciate it

    • Richie Zellon

      All you have to do is log in and go to the Ed Bickert post with the download link. Since you already paid, the system will recognize you and let you download it again, or as many times as you like.

  3. Duncan Herring

    I just received a copy of “Thinking About You” by Frank Rosolino, which, as you know, features Ed Bickert on guitar. I am really impressed: his chord melody is beautiful; it makes a melodic and harmonic statement that is so direct that one does not initially realize that it is also very complex and quite complete. Sometimes Bickert’s chord melody takes wing as single-note statements. I can easily understand why Jim Hall seemed to like Bickert and apparently wanted him to have greater exposure. In some ways, Bickert sounds like Hall. I also ordered Paul Desmond’s “Pure Desmond”, and I cannot wait to hear what Ed Bickert did there.

  4. John Lumia

    Richie, I paid the $10 for the Ed Bickert Chord Melody Snippets but when I went to download the website said I had the wrong membership level. Am I missing something or doing something wrong? Thanks. John

    • Richie Zellon

      You registered again and ended up with 2 accounts with the same info which the system doesn’t allow. I just deleted your 2nd account. Please log in and you should now be able to download the file.

  5. Duncan Herring

    This is amazing! I do not believe that I have ever listened to Ed Bickert before. Please do lessons involving more of Ed’s creations.

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