Growing up in the midwest, Willie Pickens 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 on a national hitrecord -- 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.
From 1966 to 1986, he appeared on recordings headlined by Bunky