It's taken me all my life to learn what not to play. -- Dizzie Gillespie

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Jazz pianist Ray Bryant

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Jazz pianist Ray Bryant whose sensitivity and easy authority made him a busy accompanist and a successful solo artist, died Thursday June 2 in a Queens hospital at the age of 79 after a long illness.
Born in Philadelphia to a musical family, Bryant was known for his jazz piano, but also played blues, bee-bop, boogie-woogie, Afro-Cuban, and gospel. Bryant released his first solo album in 1958 “Alone with the Blues” , and he went on to make a handful of others, including “Alone at Montreux,” “Solo Flight” and “Montreux ’77.” His most recent release, “In the Back Room,” was yet another solo album, recorded live at Rutgers University and released on the Evening Star label in 2008.It was in his home own that he made a name for himself playing jazz with his bass playing brother Tommy at the Blue Note; where Ray was the house piano player. Unlike many artists today, Bryant did not need to rely on his solo recording career. Over the years, Bryant shared the stage and recording studio with such jazz greats as Charlie Parker, Carmen McRae, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Jimmy Rushing, Jo Jones, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Shavers, Curtis Fuller, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis.Bryant had a hit with a piece called “The Madison Time” in 1960; many years later the same song appeared in the soundtrack for the movie and Broadway musical “Hairspray”.
"Ray Bryant is beautiful; that sound he gets is somewhere between a guitar and a harpsichord."Art Blakey
Last modified on Friday, 15 August 2014 12:50

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