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Willie Pickens and his family have been members of Hyde Park Union Church in Chicago for over twenty years. Susan Johnson, minister, has been instrumental in bringing the music of jazz to a wider audience for the past four years with Hyde Park Union Church's Jazz Christmas Concert. "Willie Pickens - A Jazz Christmas" is the first CD release in conjunction with this annual event. This recording is the premiere of these original arrangements by Willie Pickens of classic sacred and secular Christmas music. The proceeds of this year's concert goes to "Partners In Community Development." Hyde Park Union Church is located at 5600 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60637 (773-363-6063.)
"as gentle a spirit as this prized Chicagoan is, he blows away players of far greater repute with his sparkling inventions and note-tripping dynamism." -- Lloyd Sachs, The Chicago Sun-Times 1998
Pianist, composer, arranger and educator Willie Pickens returns with his second SOUTHPORT CD release of 1998, "Willie Pickens - A Jazz Christmas." This newly recorded seasonal CD features exciting original arrangements of Christmas classics by Willie Pickens. Joining forces with the great trio of bassist Larry Gray and drummer Robert Shy is trumpet and flugelhorn wonder man Nicholas Payton. It is time to BOP and swing through the snows of another Chicago winter and experience a new holiday celebration. In fact, you might just keep this CD in the player ALL YEAR. Noted house pianist to Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase and former member of The Elvin Jones ensemble, Mr. Pickens is the dean of Chicago-style two-fisted pianists.
Recorded at Sparrow Sound Design in Chicago by Joanie Pallatto and featuring the 9' Baldwin concert grand, this CD was co-produced and presented by The Hyde Park Union Church in Chicago as part of their yearly Christmas Concert Series. The Pickens family have been long standing members of the historic congregation.
Set the Christmas table with tracks like "Caroling, Caroling", "Little Drummer Boy" and "Winter Wonderland." The eight tracks are bold new jazz excursions that will treat your mind and soul to a new musical feast. Happy Holidays from Willie Pickens, the ensemble and SOUTHPORT Records, an American independent label! Performers: Willie Pickens, piano
Nicholas Payton, trumpet
Larry Gray, bass
Robert Shy, drums
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