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May 30, 1927 |
Denison, Texas, United States
She started in music as a singer in her Baptist church, but took up the trumpet after her brother, Frederick Bryant (born March 21, 1918 who currently resides in Lawton, Oklahoma), left it on going into the Army in 1941. She studied improvisation using a wire recorder to record her own soloing along with jazz records, and studying the results. She became adept at a variety of genres, from jazz to classical, and performing versions of famous jazz solos of the day. In addition, she honed her own unique improvisational skills in jam sessions along Central Avenue in Los Angeles, the center of the mid-'40s West Coast African-American jazz scene.
Clora Bryant performed in high-school bands, and in the early 1940s toured Texas with an all-female band, the Prairie View Co-eds. The Prairie View Co-Eds went to New York in 1944 for a successful gig at the Apollo Theater, where Clora Bryant scored a hit with the song "I had the craziest dream" on with her version of a solo by trumpeter Harry James.
She also spent a week at the Million Dollar Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles with the legendary all-female orchestra International Sweethearts of Rhythm, and in 1948 she toured with the all-female, all Black Queens of Swing. In 1948 Bryant married Joe Stone, a bassist who played with several R&B bands. They started a family, and Clora continue to perform while pregnant and as a young mother. Later she attended UCLA, where she became influenced by bebop and gained the attention of Dizzy Gillespie. She was the only female musician to perform with Charlie Parker, at the Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach, California. She subsequently toured with singers Billy Daniels and Billy Williams.
Her album Gal with a Horn was released in 1957 and in the mid-1960s she briefly did duo work with her brother, who was a vocalist. She took time off to raise her four children.
Since suffering a heart attack in 1996 she has been unable to play but still sings and lectures on jazz.
- Ankeny, Jason. "Clora Bryant". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-12-18.
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- Stein, Danica L. (1998). "Clora Bryant: Gender issues in the career of a west coast jazz musician". In DjeDje, Jacqueline Cogdell; Meadows, Eddie S. California soul: Music of African Americans in the West. University of California Press. pp. 277–293. ISBN 978-0520206281.
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- Interview of Clora Bryant, part of Central Avenue Sounds Oral History Project, Center for Oral History Research, UCLA Library Special Collections, University of California, Los Angeles.