Though extremely rated by her male friends, together with Dizzy Gillespie, the Los Angeles based mostly jazz trumpeter and vocalist Clora Bryant, who has died aged 92, recorded solely twice. Her sole “title” album, Gal With a Horn, was issued in 1957, whereas a second recording made in 1982 merely featured her as an accompanist to the blues singer Linda Hopkins.
Reflecting on why better recognition appeared to have been denied her, the saxophonist Teddy Edwards, a frequent bandstand companion, might solely say: “You recognize, she’s pretty much as good as any man. She has vary and concepts and sufficient expertise to go to the highest.”
Bryant all the time knew that her gender and color would pose challenges in her need to be taken significantly as a contemporary jazz trumpeter. Aside from a interval in the home band at Membership Alabam on Central Avenue in LA, the place she backed Billie Holiday, Bryant, self-proclaimed as a “trumpetiste”, was usually seen, sequin-clad, in all-girl combos. It was solely in her center years that she emerged as a daily participant in one of the best large bands and small teams in LA and past.
Listening to her play on the North Sea jazz competition in 1987 with Jeannie and Jimmy Cheatham’s Candy Child Blues Band and later at festivals in LA, was sufficient to substantiate her standing as a star jazz soloist – and to query why her recording alternatives had been so few.
Fairly remarkably, Bryant wrote on to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1988 suggesting she could be “the primary woman horn participant to be invited to your nation to carry out”. Maybe much more strikingly, Gorbachev issued an invite – and with the assistance of the LA musical group, who funded her journey, she and her sons toured Soviet Russia a 12 months later to nice acclaim.
Born in Denison, Texas, Clora was the youngest of three kids of Charles Bryant, a day labourer, and his spouse, Eulila, who died when Clora was two. She took up the trumpet in highschool, excited by the jazz she heard on the radio and far inspired by her father. “I’m behind you all the way in which,” he mentioned.
Regardless of presents from elite music schools, she opted as an alternative, in 1943, for the traditionally all-black Prairie View A&M University close to Houston because it had an all-female large band, the Prairie View Co-Eds. She toured broadly with them, finally showing on the Apollo theatre, Harlem, in 1944.
When her father took a job within the LA shipyards in 1945, he moved the household completely to the town. As soon as there, Bryant joined the celebrated International Sweethearts of Rhythm large band as a featured soloist however stayed solely a 12 months. Entranced by the all-action scene on Central Avenue, then the centre of black present enterprise in LA, and impressed by beboppers such because the trumpeter Howard McGhee, she impressed everybody along with her highly effective sound as she sought to measure herself towards one of the best native jazz stars within the Avenue’s wall-to-wall jam periods. “I’d all the time have my horn with me. I needed to be a part of it. I needed to be taught one thing,” she mentioned. As soon as, famously, it was Charlie Parker who sat in and sagely advised her: “Stick with what you are able to do. And know what you’ll be able to’t.”
Fairly than enjoying bebop or fashionable jazz for a residing, Bryant was usually typecast in all-female models such because the Queens of Rhythm, during which she performed trumpet and drums concurrently.
She was additionally within the violinist Ginger Smock’s sextet in 1951 after they turned the primary all-black group to host a daily, though short-lived, TV present. After shifting briefly to New York, she joined the Billy Williams Revue in Las Vegas for 2 years from 1960 after which teamed up along with her brother the vocalist Mel Bryant in a song-and-dance act that stored going all through the 1960s and 70s.
Again in LA from 1979 she fashioned her personal correct jazz group referred to as Swi-Bop, completed her diploma at UCLA and labored with Edwards in his sextet whereas additionally enjoying Dixieland with Roger Jamieson’s New Orleanians. In a blended bag of enjoying alternatives, she appeared with the Bill Berry and Gerald Wilson large bands and took engagements with the Cheathams, the singer Nellie Lutcher and the R&B pioneer Johnny Otis.
By 1992, the work had dried up – and Bryant was residing along with her son on social safety, in a house broken throughout the Rodney King riots. After quadruple coronary heart bypass surgical procedure in 1996, she ceased enjoying the trumpet – however ever decided, started lecturing on jazz historical past in native schools and grade colleges.
She usually wrote about her jazz experiences, all the time with an emphasis on the glory days of Central Avenue, and was beneficiant along with her time to researchers like me. One venture that gave her immense satisfaction was her profitable marketing campaign in 1991 to have a star devoted to Gillespie on the Hollywood Stroll of Fame.
The music author Leonard Feather referred to as Bryant “one of many unsung heroines of the jazz trumpet”, this neglect partly rectified when she was honoured with the Mary Lou Williams Ladies in Jazz award in 2002 on the Kennedy Middle in Washington DC. She was featured within the 2014 movie The Women within the Band and highlighted within the 1989 documentary Trumpetistically, Clora Bryant.
She is survived by her kids, April and Charles, from her marriage to the bassist Joe Stone, which resulted in divorce, and Darren and Kevin, from her relationship with the drummer Leslie Milton.
• Clora Larea Bryant, jazz trumpeter, born 30 Could 1927; died 25 August 2019