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|Born||April 10, 1954|
Las Cruces, New Mexico, U.S.
|Genres||R&B, funk, pop, rock|
|Musician, arranger, music director|
|Instruments||Saxophone, clarinet, flute|
|Tower of Power, Saturday Night Live Band|
He is known for his skill in the altissimo register (executed by using a combination of embouchure control, air stream control, and alternate fingerings), which can be heard during the opening credits of Saturday Night Live.
Pickett grew up in Berkeley, California. He has no formal musical training, did not attend high school beyond the first year and did not attend college. After dropping out of high school, he took lessons from Bert Wilson, a jazz saxophonist known for his facility with the altissimo register. Other than those lessons, he is self-taught on saxophone.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, he led the horn section for Tower of Power, a popular session band that backed many musicians in multiple genres, from Elton John to musicians in soul music, rhythm and blues, and funk. Tower of Power also released its own albums as a group.
Pickett joined the Saturday Night Live Band in 1985 and has served as the band's musical director since 1995.
As a composer, he has written for his group, the Borneo Horns, and has received a number of commissions to write works mixing classical and popular idioms for a variety of musical ensembles, including the New Century Saxophone Quartet, as well as music for theatre and collaborations with dancers, poets and film-makers. He is a professor of jazz saxophone at New York University.