When Ray Bryant rose to national prominence in the 1950s, he was noted for his ability to meet the sophisticated harmonic demands of modern jazz while retaining the muscle and swing of old forms and the spirit of the gospel music that surrounded him when he was a child. Any performance by Bryant is steeped in the blues, even when he's not playing a blues.
Born in Philadelphia, Bryant (whose older brother Tommy was a bassist) gained experience playing early rhythm ’n’ blues and swing with guitarist Tiny Grimes in the late 1940s. As the house pianist at Philadelphia’s Blue Note, he had opportunities to play with Charlie Parker, Lester Young, and Miles Davis.
Bryant began to gain attention during 1956-1957 when he worked with Carmen McRae and appeared at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival with Coleman Hawkins and Roy Eldridge