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Ray Bryant: Through the Years

On the opening track of Ray Bryant’s 1995 album Solo Live in Tokyo: Plays Blues and Boogie (EmArcy), part of the audience begins clapping on “two” and “four,” part on “one” and “three,” and a third faction somewhere in between. Bryant continues unfazed, never missing a beat, eventually bringing everyone in line. His authority, momentum and unerring sense of swing can sweep an audience along with him.

Like Ellington, Tatum and Monk, Bryant has an immediately identifiable sound, for after only a few notes there is no mistaking the player. And watching Bryant play solo piano one gets the feeling that he is truly part of a continuum that goes back to James P. Johnson and Fats Waller.

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