Legendary Jazz Musician Willie Pickens has died

Hyde Park jazz legend Willie Pickens

By TONIA HILL
Staff Writer

Legendary Jazz Musician and Hyde Parker Willie Pickens has died according to reports. He was 86.

According to his daughter, Bethany Pickens’ Facebook page Pickens died sometime after midnight on Tuesday  in New York.

He had been a part of the Hyde Park community for nearly 60 years. The lively jazz clubs of the 1950s and ’60s were what initially drew Pickens to Hyde Park from Milwaukee, as stated in a previous article in the Herald. For many years he performed at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival since its creation in 2007 and his performances were highly anticipated.

His mother was an amateur pianist and played a significant role in exposing him to various styles of music.

Pickens was a constant force in Chicago’s jazz performance scene for over half a century, Pickens also made himself into one of the city’s most respected jazz educators. Pickens taught high school band from 1966 through 1990 and was an educator at Northern Illinois University.

He has toured and recorded with many such as, Elvin Jones, Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, Eddie Harris, Wynton Marsalis, Quincy Jones, Louis Bellson, Bunky Green and Red Holloway.

t.hill@hpherald.com