Patti Wicks

Jazz singer/pianist whose emotion and devotion made her a NYC legend and significant force nationwide.
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Artist Biography

b. Patricia Ellen Chappell, 24 February 1945, Islip, New York, USA. Born with a slight visual impairment, as a small child Wicks displayed an acute sense of hearing. Her family home provided a musical environment, and at the age of three she startled family members by playing the piano, repeating, note for note, a Christmas carol her mother had just played. She began piano studies, at which she was tutored by Juilliard graduate Pat Kleinmeyer. Initially, she was taught by hearing but as her eyesight improved, she was able to study more intensively, including music theory and composition. Electing not to pursue a career as a concert pianist, Wicks was accepted at the Crane School of Music, SUNY, Potsdam, New York. It was here that she studied under James Ball who, through the medium of records, introduced her to many jazz musicians, notably Bill Evans, whose music was to have a profound effect upon Wicks’ future career. During her junior year at Crane, Wicks also met another student, Hal Miller, who played drums at on- and off-campus jazz gigs. Wicks began singing at some of Miller’s dates and in her final year, she sang with the Varsity Jazz Big Band, for which John LaBarbera was conductor and arranger.

Around this time, she met and married Mike Wicks, the bass player with the student jazz group. After graduation from Crane, the couple taught and also played semi-professionally at weekends. In addition to performing in duo, they also formed a trio with baritone saxophonist Nick Brignola. Having decided that she wanted to play and sing jazz as a full-time career, in 1969 Wicks opted to move to New York City even though this involved an amicable divorce. In New York through the early and mid-70s, she worked many engagements as solo singer and singer-pianist, and also in duo with a bass player, among whose number were Sam Jones, Richard Davis, and Brian Torff. With the addition of a drummer, she also formed trios; with Jones and Louis Hayes or Mickey Roker, and with Davis and Alan Dawson. She also worked with drummer Curtis Boyd. In addition to numerous club dates, Wicks also played concerts at several colleges and universities in the New York area. In the late 70s, she relocated to Florida, forming a trio and also occasionally a quartet. In the latter format, the added horn found her in company with artists such as Billy Butterfield and Flip Phillips. In the mid-80s, Wicks returned to New York, resuming a round of club and concert engagements, sometimes with bass players Mark Dresser and Torff, and with the latter and Boyd, she re-formed her trio.

At the start of the next decade, Wicks settled in Maine where for several years she led the house trio at a club, an engagement that found her backing visiting jazzmen such as Greg Abate, Larry Coryell, Buddy De Franco, Frank Morgan, Cecil Payne, and Clark Terry. She also worked with singers Giacomo Gates, Allan Harris, Sheila Jordan, Anita O’Day, Rebecca Parris and Roseanna Vitro. The mid-90s saw her return to Florida where she worked as soloist, as trio leader, and as leader of a group backing jazzmen such as Richie Cole, Turk Mauro, Pete Minger, and Ira Sullivan. In 1998, she married drummer-singer Kevin Campfield. In addition to performing, Wicks also teaches jazz piano, both privately and on the faculty at Palm Beach Community College. She is also an accomplished composer and accompanist for classical ballet and modern dance, in particular working with the Ballet Florida.