In Stores September 26th on Label M.
One of the first calls Joel Dorn made when forming Label M was to his old friend, the great jazz pianist, Ray Bryant. He was looking for any old concert tapes Ray might have had of himself. Within a week Ray arrived with a garbage bag full of cassettes he found in an old china closet. It was from that stash that this gem of a concert was discovered. Ray was given the tape by a soundman after a gig he played in France in 1993. He had no idea the show was being recorded that night, and not having labeled the tape, he has no recollection of the city or venue where the performance took place.
Solo piano is where Ray Bryant shines the brightest. His albums Alone at Montreux, Alone With The Blues and Montreux 77 are cornerstones of his discography, which encompasses over 40 years of recording. Combining strains of bebop, blues, boogie-woogie, stride and gospel, Rays virtuoso talent is balanced by a deep, soulful approach. He can rip it up with a saloon style romp or chill an audience with a mesmerizing ballad. He utilizes the entire piano, swarming the keyboard with dancing solos and steady, rolling bass rhythms.
Beginning the night with Take The A-Train, Rays swinging from the get-go. His versatility shines through on Con Alma with its plaintive opening that halfway through makes the jump to double-time. Over an insistent bass line, Ray announces: This is a blues entitled Slow Freight, which as every Ray Bryant fan knows, is a regular highlight of his set. Ray also treats the audience to the seldom performed Good Morning Heartache and When I Look In Your Eyes. The evening is rounded out with St. Louis Blues, a fitting number that matches Rays blues soul with his jazz chops. The audience calls him back for one more with a standing ovation. He obliges, sending them home with the gentle lullaby Until Its Time For You To Go.
Ray Bryant grew up in Philadelphia listening to the likes of Art Tatum, Count Basie and Teddy Wilson. He was a member of the local musicians union playing professionally by the time he was 14-years old. In 1953, he returned to Philadelphia after stints on the road with Tiny Grimes, Jack Teargarden and Johnny Smith, becoming the house pianist at Phillys Blue Note jazz club. Here he had the great fortune of backing Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Lester Young and others whenever they rolled through town. By 1955, he had his own record deal with Epic, introducing the great Betty Carter on side two of his debut album. Ever since then Ray has performed in great demand internationally, still recording and touring the world to this day.
Other releases from Label M on September 26th include: Stan Getz/My Foolish Heart, Sonny Stitt/Just The Way It Was and Morgana King/The Complete Reprise Recordings.
For more information on Label M, please contact LabelM@ParadiseME.com.