Harry Pickens was born in 1960 in Brunswick, Georgia, a town on the coast between Savannah, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla.
Pickens began playing music when he was 5 or 6, “annoying his family,” he recalls, with endless repetitions of the first few songs he learned to play at the piano. This photo shows him at age 6 or 7 with his piano teacher.
Growing into a young man, however, the precocious side of his personality won out, as Pickens the performer found the life of an extroverted musician more comfortable. Here is Pickens in 1984 with members of Out of the Blue. The group recorded for Blue Note Records. The band included Kenny Garrett on alto sax, Robert Brown on tenor sax, Michael Phillip Mossman on trumpet, Robert Hurst on bass, and Ralph Peterson on drums.
He declares that these two periods of growth and the subsequent combination of values he developed—the solitary and introspective within the bright and extroverted—remain the essential elements of his personal creative process. This photo was taken at a performance at Rutgers University.
Pickens’ international career as a jazz pianist has taken him to 17 countries throughout Europe, Japan, and the Americas. This photo was taken in Japan in the summer of 1986.
He has collaborated with many legendary musicians, including Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, James Moody, Milt Jackson (Modern Jazz Quartet), Don Braden (musical director for The Cosby Show), Bob Hurst (bassist for The Tonight Show) and hundreds of others. Here, he works with jazz trumpetist Jon Faddis.
Pickens enjoys bringing his love of music to children, hoping to spark their interests as it did during his own childhood.
A solitary and introspective nature shining brightly in the magic of musical performance—these remain the essential elements of Pickens’ personal creative process.