It’s truly sad when a person whose music has played as background to your life passes. Ray Bryant was there for many of us looking to hear jazz with a blues flair and catchy themes. Bryant spent several years hanging around Toronto during the late nineteen eighties. I got to know him and found him positively engaging. He’d drop in to watch a local jam session and hang through the evening then fly off the next day to Japan or Berlin. This was a man on the go. I’ll never forget the session with Betty Carter recorded in 1955 when two new voices arrive with impact. Bryant, Gene Harris, Ahmad Jamal, Junior Mance all shined at about the same moment. The piano jazz based trio ruled. It was the golden era for small intimate trios who played the groove for the people. Bryant was 79 when he passed away June 2, 2011.
Bill King Editor
Ray Bryant (Raphael Homer Bryant) (born December 24, 1931 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American Jazz pianist and composer.
Ray Bryant began playing the piano at the age of six, also performing on bass in junior High School. Turning professional before his age of majority, Bryant has accompanied many other leading players such as Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Melba Liston, and Coleman Hawkins, as well as singers Carmen McRae and Aretha Franklin. From the late 1950s, he led a trio, performing throughout the world, and also worked solo. In addition, he is a noted Jazz composer, with well-known themes such as “Cubano Chant,” “The Madison Time,” “Monkey Business,” and “Little Susie” to his credit.
The musicians Kevin Eubanks, Duane Eubanks, and Robin Eubanks are his nephews. His brothers are the bass player Tommy Bryant (May 21, 1930 – March 1, 1982) and Len Bryant, who plays drums and is also a singer.
Both Tommy and Ray Bryant formed a trio with Oz Perkins as the back-up band for the off-Broadway run of the comedy show Cambridge Circus, at Square East in 1964. The show starred John Cleese, Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor, David Hatch, Jo Kendall, Graham Chapman, Jonathan Lynn, and Jean Hart.
The Ray Bryant Trio with Candido Camero, Kenny Clarke, Ike Isaacs, Osie Johnson, Jo Jones, Wyatt Reuther, Specs Wright, 1956
Me and the Blues with Ike Isaacs, Specs Wright, 1957
Alone with the Blues, Soloalbum, 1958
Now’s the Time with Tommy Bryant, Oliver Jackson, 1959
Ray Bryant Plays, 1960
Little Susie with Tommy Bryant, Gus Johnson, Eddie Locke, 1959
Con Alma with A’nt Idy Harper, Arthur Harper, Bill Lee, Mickey Roker, 1960
Groove House with Tommy Bryant, Bobby Donaldson, Panama Francis, Wally Richardson, 1963
Cold Turkey with Ben Riley, Jimmy Rowser, 1964
Ray Bryant Soul, Soloalbum, 1964
Soul with Sonny Brown, Tommy Bryant, Walter Perkins, 1964
Gotta Travel On with Walter Booker, Clark Terry, Freddie Waits, 1966
The Ray Bryant Touch with Rudy Collins, Jimmy Rowser, 1967
Take a Bryant Step, Soloalbum, 1967
Up Above the Rock, 1968
Sound Ray with Jimmy Rowser, Harold White, 1969
Alone at Montreux [live], Soloalbum, 1972
Hot Turkey with Panama Francis, Major Holley, 1975
Here’s Ray Bryant with George Duvivier, Grady Tate, 1976
All Blues with Sam Jones, Grady Tate, 1978
Potpourri with Mickey Roker, Jimmy Rowser, 1980
Ray Bryant Trio Today with Rufus Reid, Freddie Waits, 1987
Plays Basie & Ellington, 1987
All Mine…And Yours with Winard Harper, Rufus Reid, 1989
Ray’s Tribute to His Jazz Piano Friends with Ray Drummond, Winard Harper, 1997
Ray Bryant Meets Ray Brown,1999
Ray Bryant : Somewhere in France, 2000
North of the Border (live) with Harry Anderson, Winard Harper, 2001
Plays the Complete Little Susie, 2007