Bryant was born in Huntington, West Virginia, and grew up in Columbus, Ohio, becoming a fixture of the local jazz scene. He worked with Tiny Grimes and Stomp Gordon before founding his own ensemble, the Carolyn Club Band, in 1951. He signed with Dot Records in 1954 and released several albums as a leader in the second half of the 1950s. In 1952, his live recording "All Nite Long" (a faster version of "Night Train") became a hit R&B single in the U.S.
Bryant's contract with Dot ended in 1957, and he returned to Columbus to do mostly local engagements, playing often with pianist-organist Hank Marr