Chicago jazz piano legend Willie Pickens passed away this past week at the age of 86. He was tickling the ivories right until the very end, suffering a heart attack as he walked from the practice room to a sound check.
An icon in Chicago’s jazz scene, Pickens got his start in 1958 when he left Milwaukee to make his name in Chicago. Over the next several decades, artists would come through Chicago for jam sessions with Pickens, as he set up shop in Chicago Public Schools and sought to inspire generation after generation of aspiring artists.
Morning Shift talks to Chicago jazz broadcaster Daniel Bindert, station manager at WDCB, Chicago’s lead jazz station, about the life and legacy of pianist Willie Pickens.