Pianist Harry Pickens has performed internationally with many of the finest artists in the jazz field including Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Milt Jackson, Freddie Hubbard, and others. An alumnus of Davidson College and Rutgers University, Mr. Pickens blends an active performance career which has taken him to 17 countries on 4 continents with a deep passion for making a difference as a teacher, consultant, and professional speaker.
Mr. Pickens’ professional career as an improvising pianist began in 1980, when he was chosen to participate in the first National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Artists-In-Schools program. In a single semester spent in the quiet southern New Jersey town of Salem, his residency received national recognition for excellence in arts outreach, sharing the magic, beauty and intricacy of the jazz art with students, parents, and community.
The next several years found him in high demand, freelancing with dozens of the worlds top jazz musicians, performing in concert venues including Avery Fisher Hall, Wolftrap Center For The Performing Arts, Walker Arts Center and legendary jazz clubs including the Village Vanguard, Sweet Basil’s, The Village Gate, and the Café Montmartre. In addition to the concert and club settings, over 10,000 aspiring jazz artists have experienced Mr. Pickens’ dynamic performances and inspiring workshops at the Jamey Aebersold Summer Workshops, where he has served as a core faculty member for the past 15 years.
Mr. Pickens has also been featured on numerous television and radio broadcasts throughout the US and Europe, most recently including Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz on National Public Radio, Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour, and Kentucky Educational Television’s Live At The Governor’s Mansion and Mixed Media. His recordings include performances with Johnny Griffin, Eddie Lockjaw Davis and Out Of The Blue (Blue Note Records) as well as 2 solo piano CD’s recorded live on the Double Time Jazz label.
Although internationally renowned as an outstanding jazz pianist, Mr. Pickens’ musical passions and interests far exceed the jazz domain. He has studied Western Art Music and popular music genres extensively and has worked as a choral conductor, accompanist, grade K-12 music teacher and college music instructor. His educational background also includes delivering workshops for students, educators, and corporate trainers on practical applications of the creative and performing arts to enhance learning, creativity, and personal effectiveness.
Mr. Pickens’ unusual blend of talents have also led to personal encounters with many remarkable people outside of the world of music. From a private performance in the home of renowned motivational author and speaker Denis Waitley, to appearing as guest faculty at marketing genius Jay Abraham’s $20,000-per-person Protégé training programs, to writing record-breaking newspaper and direct mail advertising copy for best-selling author Robert Allen, these unforgettable experiences in the presence of top achievers have refined his understanding of the essence of personal and professional success.
He has also taught aside master teacher/psychologist/researcher Jean Houston, sharing insights on the early life of Mozart as a model for developing a truly empowering educational system, co-developed international leadership training programs for Fortune 100 corporations, and presented innovative seminars on marketing and advertising for over 1500 entrepreneurs (his seminar graduates and marketing clients have included best-selling author Laurie Beth Jones, author of Jesus, CEO, Joyce Wykoff, founder of the Innovation Network, Eric Jensen, owner/operator of Jensen Learning Corporation, and Marilyn King, two-time Olympian and professional speaker).
Currently, in addition to an active performance schedule, Harry Pickens devotes his time, talents, and energy to using the power of music to help individuals, organizations, and communities get in tune with their greatest possibilities. He presents keynote concerts, workshops, seminars, and residencies internationally and his innovative presentations and performances have reached over 100,000 people of all ages.
An abridged list of jazz artists Harry Pickens has performed with includes:
John Abercrombie, Eric Alexander, Jamey Aebersold, David Baker, Jerry Bergonzi, Art Blakey, Terrance Blanchard, Don Braden, Avery Brooks, Gary Campbell, Conte Candoli, Pete Candoli, Ron Carter, Jerry Coker, Buddy Collette, Todd Coolman, Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis, Denis DiBlasio, Lou Donaldson, Ted Dunbar, Madeline Eastman, Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison, Robin Eubanks, Jon Faddis, Art Farmer, Ricky Ford, Gary Foster, Chico Freeman, Curtis Fuller, Kenny Garrett, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson, Slide Hampton, Pat Harbison, Marshall Hawkins, Jimmy Heath, Joe Henderson, Billy Higgins, Freddie Hubbard, Robert Hurst, Bobby Hutcherson, Milt Jackson, Herb Jeffreys, Clifford Jordan, Pat LaBarbara, Dave Leibman, Mundell Lowe, Cecil McBee, Jackie McLean, Charles McPherson , Frank Morgan, James Moody, Jack Petersen, Ralph Peterson, Rufus Reid, Wallace Roney, Bobby Shew, Marvin ‘Smitty’ Smith, Jim Snidero, James Spaulding, Steve Turre, Freddie Waits, Kenny Washington, Bobby Watson, Walt Weiskopf, Jack Wilkins, Mike Wofford, and Phil Woods).