Clora Bryant

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Clora Bryant
Born (1927-05-30) May 30, 1927 (age 89)
Denison, Texas, United States
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Trumpeter
Instruments Trumpet
Years active 1944-66

Clora Bryant (born May 30, 1927, in Denison, Texas) is an American jazz trumpeter.


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.[1] 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 her high-school band. She turned down a scholarship to study at Oberlin College in Ohio and enrolled at Prairie View A&M, a historically Black college in Texas known for its Jazz Band Program. In the early 1940s she toured Texas with the college's 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 which was 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 continued 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.[1] 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.

In 1951, she was a member of an all-female sextette led by Ginger Smock,[2][3] that was broadcast for six weeks on CBS.[4]

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.

She appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and later became the first American female jazz musician to play in the Soviet Union on a request from Mikhail Gorbachev.[1]

Since suffering a heart attack in 1996 she has been unable to play but still sings and lectures on jazz.


  1. ^ a b c Ankeny, Jason. "Clora Bryant". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 
  2. ^ Mcgee, Kristin A., Some Liked it Hot: Jazz Women in Film and Television, 1928-1959, Wesleyan University Press, 2009, p. 211.
  3. ^ "Hot violinist is TV Hit in Los Angeles", Jet, April 24, 1952. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  4. ^ The New York Times Television Reviews 2000, p. 372. Routledge, June 5, 2003. Retrieved June 3, 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bryant, Clora, eds.; et al. (1998). Central Avenue Sounds: Jazz in Los Angeles. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. pp. 342–68. ISBN 978-0-520-22098-0. OCLC 37361632. 
  • Enstice, Wayne; Stockhouse, Janis (2004). Jazzwomen: Conversations with Twenty-One Musicians. Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana Press. pp. 33–46. ISBN 978-0-253-01014-8. OCLC 301489382. 
  • Heckman, D. (2007). "Clora Bryant: Trumpetiste extraordinaire". Jazz Times. 37 (4): 48–49. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  • 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 978-0-520-20628-1. OCLC 42855007. 
  • Tucker, Sherrie, Swing Shift: "All-Girl" Bands of the 1940s, Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-822-32485-0 OCLC 42397506

External links[edit]