Clora Bryant (tp, vcl), Don Fagerquist, Norman Faye (tp), Herbie Harper (tb), Herb Geller (as), Bill Perkins, Walter Benton (ts), Pepper Adams (bs), Claude Williamson, Roger Fleming (p), Curtis Counce, Ben Tucker (b), Mel Lewis, Bruz Freeman (d)
Bar code: 8427328611404
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Trumpeter Clora Bryant (1927-2019) made an indelible mark on the vibrant Los Angeles jazz scene. A member of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm and other all-female swing bands in the 1940s, she later immersed herself in the world of bebop on Central Avenue during the late 1940s. This iconic thoroughfare, the heart of black Los Angeles, played a pivotal role in the evolution of West Coast black music.
On her musical journey, Clora frequented venues like the Downbeat, where she had the opportunity to listen to luminaries such as Teddy Edwards and Howard McGhee. Reflecting on her early days, she fondly reminisced in 2011, ‘When I began my journey on Central Avenue, there were no women participating in jam sessions. I held a unique place; you can’t even imagine! I’d take my trumpet, walk up, and start playing. I was the only woman doing it.’
Determined to secure more gigs, Clora expanded her stage presence by incorporating singing into her performances. Despite facing indignities due to her race and choice of instrument, her unwavering passion and love for jazz propelled her to overcome the difficulties and barriers in her path.
Her life was marked by a steadfast dedication to jazz, and her legacy resonates in the world of music. Recognized as one of L.A.’s outstanding trumpeters, or as she preferred, a ‘trumpetiste,’ Clora Bryant’s impact on jazz endures.
"Clora Bryant (1927-2019) deserved much better. A very good trumpeter who could hit high notes with power and personality, Bryant’s playing ranged from bop to Dixieland. But because she was a female who matured in the 1950s, she was often treated as a novelty, constantly struggled to be taken seriously, and was given many less opportunities to record than she deserved. In fact, she made no recordings at all during 1961-81 despite being very active, and she appeared on just three albums after that; one apiece with Linda Hopkins, Johnny Otis, and the Cheathams.
All of the trumpeter’s pre-1981 recordings fit into Plays And Sings, a single CD. Most of this release is taken up by her one record date as a leader which was called Gal With A Horn. Bryant, who also sings on most of the selections, is featured leading a combo in 1957 that also includes pianist Roger Fleming, bassist Ben Tucker, drummer Bruz Freeman, and occasionally tenor saxophonist Walter Benton and Norman Faye playing in the background on trumpet. The eight songs are all standards and include excellent versions of “Gypsy In My Soul,” “This Can’t Be Love,” and “”S’Posin’” among the highlights.
This CD also has Bryant as one of many soloists featured on a lengthy version of “Rifftide” with an impressive group of West Coast all-stars (including trumpeter Don Fagerquist, altoist Herb Geller, Bill Perkins on tenor, and baritonist Pepper Adams) and being showcased on two numbers (“Angel Eyes” and “Blueberry Hill”) from 1960 with the Billy Williams Revue.
Producer Jordi Pujol’s lengthy liner notes which take up 13 panel sides give one the definitive Clora Bryant story. Although it is a bit of a tragedy that she recorded so little despite a very active career, jazz fans can be grateful that at least she was documented on these early recordings."
—Scott Yanow (February, 2024)
Los Angeles Jazz Scene