A little more than a year ago, Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt won Academy Awards for their roles in the film As Good As It Gets
. In one memorable scene, Nicholson turns to the male costar, an artist, and remarks, "If that did it for me I’d be the luckiest guy in the world" (or words to that effect). Ray Bryant’s "After Hours" and "Slow Freight" do that for me. Deep rumbling bass notes, a full orchestral sound with gospel and blues sensibilities, melodies that at once sound like old friends, and syncopated left-hand figures to keep you on the edge of your seat; this is what Bryant serves up when he sits down at the piano.
Recorded in 1972, live at the Montreux Jazz Festival before a large and appreciative audience, Alone At Montreux was out-of-print and not available on compact disc. The album includes Bryant’s voice, as he announces the selections. Athttp://www.murraystreet.com/bryant2.htm is a 1997 transcript from Jazz At Lincoln Center with host Ed Bradley. Pianist Tommy Flanagan and trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison" were Bradley’s guests that night as the show offered a close-up look at pianist Ray Bryant and his career.
From Bryant’s hits "Little Susie" and "Cubano Chant" to traditional items like "Greensleeves" and "Gotta Travel On," the album features solo piano that is at once soulful, pleasant, and elaborate. Several definitive blues numbers anchor the session, while a blazing fast "Liebestraum Boogie" serves as the final encore. Bryant’s magnetic solo piano performance draws you in and keeps you there, awash in an intangible thread that pervades his music and lets you feel as you listen.