Paul Bryant

Bryant, a child actor, appeared in 22 films during the 1940s. His most significant legacy is his contribution to the development West Coast jazz. Bryant was a pianist and organist who combined a sophisticated sound with the ability to play piano. One admirer said Bryant had skills that could only have been acquired at the “School of Funkiola.” He was featured on eight albums through Pacific Jazz Records in Los Angeles. Bryant also performed all over the globe, including at Count Basie’s Lounge, New York, the Blackberry Jazz Club, Japan, and the L.A. clubs that were the birthplace of West Coast jazz, Dynamite Jackson’s, and the Last Word. Paul Carlton Bryant was the son of Gene Odom Bryant and Maxwell Bryant. He was born in Asbury Park (N.J.) on Sept. 22, 1933. Lott stated that Bryant moved to Los Angeles at an early age with his mother, who was his primary caregiver. They settled in South Los Angeles, where they quickly became involved in the burgeoning arts community, just like thousands of other African American families. Lott stated that Bryant’s mother, who had studied drama, had always wanted to be on the stage. He said that his mother had studied drama and that her desire to be on stage “always carried over.” Bryant started studying piano at John Gray Conservatory of Music, Los Angeles at age 4. He would continue his studies there for 16 years. By 5, he was already tap dancing, singing, and playing the piano publically. A newspaper article in 1943, when Bryant was in third grade and making his debut on CBS Radio, described him as a “veteran by the footlights.” Bryant’s film debut was in 1942’s “I Married an Angel”. He also appeared as an “urchin” uncredited in “Saratoga Trunk,” starring Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman and others. Bryant, a Jefferson High School senior, joined a school’s “dance band,” which reflected the huge interest in new jazz from South L.A. The trumpeter Art Farmer, Ed Thigpen and Buddy Collette were among the teens who went on to achieve great acclaim. Bryant graduated from Jefferson and joined the Air Force. He was assigned to a 16 piece band that performed on numerous bases. He made a pivotal decision in 1958 to switch from piano to organ, which would change his musical direction. His jazz career was on the horizon when Bryant was discovered by a Pacific Jazz executive two years later at a South Broadway club. He recorded his first album, “Blues Message,” with Curtis Amy (a frequent collaborator). He has performed publically since 2007, and he never retired. He was also very well received at several performances at the Central Avenue Jazz Festival when he was in 70s. Bryant was married to Shirley Jeanne Harris, in 1957. They had an ongoing relationship that lasted into the 1980s. They had a son, Carlton Paul Bryant “Buddy”. From

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