Compiled by Michael Weil
First published – August 2021
Pages in this Discography:
Paul Bryant was born as Paul Carlton Bryant on September 22, 1933 in Asbury Park, New Jersey, but moved to Los Angeles with his mother at an early age. She worked as a primary caretaker but had studied drama in her youth and never gave up her dreams of a stage career, which obviously rubbed off on the young Paul, who had a career as a child actor, appearing in 22 films, debuting in 1942. Besides that he took piano lessons at the John Gray Conservatory of music in Los Angles from age 4, remaining there for 16 years. In 1951 he played in a “dance band” at Jefferson High School, Art Farmer, Ed Thigpen, and Buddy Colette were among his bandmates.
In 1958 de made the switch to organ and was “discovered” by Richard Bock while performing at a club on South Broadway, who immediately recorded him. His collaboration with Curtis Amy is documented on two LPs on Pacific Jazz and on a feature for the TV series “Stars of Jazz”. There also was an LP under Bryant’s name on Pacific Jazz. Two more for Fantasy followed, as well as sideman dates with Johnny Griffin and Howard Roberts, but surprisingly there are no more recordings after 1965, although he kept performing until 2007. He died on December 4, 2009 after suffering complications following recent surgeries.
His recordings show an individual stylist on the Hammond organ, making great and very personal use of dynamics with common phrases from blues and church music, but without stepping into the trap of repeating them to the degree of predictabilty. He also was a sensitive accompanist, which is heard to great advantage on his LP with Johnny Griffin, who audibly enjoyed the gospel tinges in Bryant’s playing and responded with warm and relaxed solos.
His Pacific Jazz recordings are still popular today, as can bee seen by the many tracks from these albums included in various compilations.
Bryant’s discography is an illustration of producer Richard Bock’s almost obsessive use of editing, in this case to release tracks in different formats. Besides the LPs there were shortened versions on 45 rpm singles, and different edits for 33 rpm singles for juke boxes or radio play. I have listed them all but so far I could detect only one alternate take: the version of “This Is The Blues” issued on a Pacific Jazz compilation LP of the same title is different from the version on the LP “The Blues Message.
Sources for this discography:
- My own record collection
- Tom Lord: The Jazz Discography Online
- Obituary by Scott Gold: Los Angeles Times, January 14, 2010
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