Ray Bryant (1931-2011), a gospel-tinged bebop and hard bop jazz pianist who recorded on driving albums by Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, Benny Golson and Dizzy Gillespie in the '50s, died on June 2 after a long illness. He was 79.
Bryant's sole Billboard hit was Madison Time, a popular line dance created in Columbus, Ohio, in 1957 and popularized on a Baltimore TV dance show in 1959. In 1960, Bryant recorded the slinky song in two parts, which appeared on the front and back of the 45-rpm disc. Who was in the Ray Bryant Combo that recorded the hit? Harry "Sweets" Edison (tp), Urbie Green (tb), Buddy Tate (ts), Ray Bryant (p), Tommy Bryant (b) and Bill English (d).
Here's Ray Bryant playing beautiful solo piano on Rockin' Chair in 1958...
Note to media reps: I receive emails from roughly 30 music publicists each day. Most of them are unknown to me, and all promise that their artists have just recorded the most amazing new jazz, r&b or blues CD. They also insist that I give them a chance. The mistake many of these publicists make is not including links to samples so that I actually can listen to them.
Which is kind of odd. Seems to me that if you're going to spend time and effort trying to reach someone who could help your client, the smart thing to do would be to get your client's music to that person's ears as quickly as possible. Most of the time I'm directed to painful MySpace pages and websites where it's impossible to find the music.
So, here are some rules for publicists who want me to listen to their client's works:
2. Speed up the spiel. Tell me quickly (3 lines) why your client is special, what songs they play and when the new recording will be available to one and all.
3. Let me listen. Provide links to sample clips of the album. Without those, most emails wind up in my trash. Nothing personal. I just don't have time to play musical hide and seek.
As for musicians who already read JazzWax, you may want to check to see how your publicist is promoting your latest CD. Unless there are samples for writers and critics to hear, the odds are high that your work won't be heard or reviewed.
Dave Lambert & Co. For those who enjoyed my post last week on D.A. Pennebaker's Audition at RCA, with Dave Lambert and four other singers, you may be pained to learn that Leslie Dorsey, the black male vocalist in Lambert's group, was murdered in 1988 while driving a gypsy cab in New York. JazzWax reader Bruno Vasil sent along a link to his New York Times obit here.
Gil Scott-Heron tribute. Not too familiar with the captivating music of Gil Scott-Heron, who passed away May 27. JazzWax reader Chris Cowles recently hosted a two-hour show dedicated to the singer's recordings. Free podcasts of the show can be found here and here.
Bill Clinton, saxophonist. Jazz Video Guy Bret Primack interviewed pianist Michael Wolff on the night Bill Clinton came to the Arsenio Hall Show to blow. Go here...
Herb Snitzer, live. Today at 2 p.m., fine-art photographer Herb Snitzer will be at the Tampa Museum of Art in Florida to talk about his new book. Bob Seymour, the jazz music director of WUSF-FM, will be hosting. Herb's book, Glorious Days and Nights: A Jazz Memoir, features 85 of his black-and-white jazz photos from 1957 to 1964, as well as written reflections on his career and subjects. For more information, go here. For Herb's book, go here.
Ronnell Bright. After my post last week featuring pianist Ronnell Bright's cameo appearance on an episode of The Jeffersons, I received the following email from JazzWax reader Eliane Van Lierde in Belgium:
"It's always a pleasure watching Ronnell play. In 1958, I was working at the American Pavilion during the Brussels Worlds Fair. For several days I had the privilege of assisting with the appearance of Ronnell Bright, when he was accompanying Sarah Vaughan. The clip you posted brought back nice memories.
"After their appearance in Brussels, they played for about a week at the Casino in Oostende, which is near the sea. Since I play the piano, I invited him to spend time at our home one afternoon. For all of us, it was a pleasure to see and hear him play."
"I first met Russ and Gina in Hollywood in 1961. In 1965 I sailed with them on their tri-maran from Florida to Panama. They sailed on to New Zealand where they have lived ever since. I recall that as we sailed through the waterways in Fort Lauderdale, Russ' boat horn would not work to raise a bridge so he got out his trumpet, played a few notes, and the bridge raised."
CD discoveries of the week. Thad Jones' music is always more complicated than you expect—and much more melodic. His works can sound like Busby Berkeley stage numbers—tightly choreographed with different sections opening and closing at at different points. All of this is brilliantly handled by the NYJazz Initiative on their new CD, Mad About Thad (Jazzheads). Case in point is Bird Song, arranged by Rob Derke. Or Lady Luck, charted by Justin Flynn. All of the album's compositions by Jones are arranged by band members with the master in mind, and the results are quite something. You'll find this one at iTunes or here.
Jessie Marquez's All I See Is Sky (Carena) is a sultry Latin steamer that grabs you from the first track. Vocalist Marquez wrote all of the songs on this album, and each offers sultry passion and lyricism. Too many singers today overreach trying to channel the sound of '50s vocalists. Marquez skips all of that and instead has a firm grip on her own style and her highly expressive approach. Dig And It Rains, for example. You'll find this one at iTunes or here.
Hip electric guitar is hard to come by today. Sheryl Bailey is among those who retain the elegance of the instrument's '50s heritage while giving it a modern twist. On For All Those Living (PureMusic), the Sheryl Bailey 4 swings through eight original compositions, with Bailey playing large, in the spirit of Wes Montgomery. Particularly pretty is the waltz-time title track and the skippy Wilkinsburg. You'll find this one at iTunes or here.
Oddball album of the week: I think this album proves that oddball covers weren't restricted to American or Dutch designer tastes. This pointless 1960 cover from England features Londoners Vic Ash, Harry Klein, Brian Dee, Malcolm Cecil and Bill Eyden. I can just hear the hack art director saying, "Come on then boys, pull up around the kettle drum for a spot of hearts. It will be jolly grand. Look this way, men. That's it. Hold it... right then!"