The St. John’s Artist Series continues its ninth season on Sunday, February 7, at 3:00 p.m. with legendary Chicago jazz pianist Willie Pickens playing in concert. The public is cordially invited to attend the Pickens event and the reception. No tickets will be sold for the program; a free-will offering will be received.
A Hyde Park resident, Pickens is considered a living legend and is still one of Chicago’s most in-demand jazz pianists. Formerly a faculty member of the American Conservatory of Music, Pickens has performed with a wide variety of internationally recognized jazz artists. Among those with whom he has toured and/or recorded are Elvin Jones, Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, Eddie Harris, Wynton Marsalis, Quincy Jones, Louis Belson, Bunky Green, and Red Holloway.
Pickens grew up in the Midwest, earned a teacher’s certificate from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee and went on to the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee in 1958, to receive his B.S. in Music Education, before beginning his remarkable career as a jazz pianist. Over the years, his sterling academic credentials have enabled him to share his gifts with many young players, both as a performer and teacher. Upon graduating from school, he moved to Chicago and began his career, first as a Chicago Public School teacher, then on a national hit record—Eddie Harris’ 1961 Exodus. After that big hit, Willie’s live appearances were almost all limited to the Midwest for the next two decades, while his career as an educator flourished.
Today, at age 83, according to Chicago Tribune’s Howard Reich, “he’s playing with all the vigor of earlier years, but also with a mastery born of decades of toil. In essence, he’s at a kind of creative peak right now.” The inventiveness of Pickens’s playing is matched by its musical depth, harmonic complexity and improvisational freedom.
“I feel sometimes that you grow in spurts,” says Pickens. “Sometimes you kind of level off, and you feel you’re not moving anywhere. Other times, you’re kind of growing by leaps and bounds, and maybe this is one of those times.”
An informal reception with light refreshments will follow the concert, during which the distinctive and colorful paintings of Lombard artist Carolyn Dunn will be on display and available for purchase.
St. John’s Lutheran Church is located on the southeast corner of Lincoln and Maple Streets in Lombard. DIRECTIONS
Find more information about St. John’s Artist Series HERE.