July-26th-2004, 04:30 PM
TRUMPETER CLORA BRYANT HONORS WOMEN at CENTRAL AVENUE JAZZ FESTIVAL
TRUMPETER CLORA BRYANT HONORS WOMEN
AT CENTRAL AVENUE JAZZ FESTIVAL
LOS ANGELES: Trumpeter Clora Bryant, who is one of the pioneering women in jazz, will honor women who played the clubs of Central Avenue during the 1930s-1950s, on her panel “Central Avenue Dancers,” during the 9th Annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival, which will be held July 31-August 1, on Central Avenue at 42nd Place.
Her guests include: exotic dancer Chi Chi Chevalier, who danced at the Club Alabam and The Oasis; Avenelle Harris who was a lead dancer at the Lincoln Theater; and singer Ivern Ely who also played cocktail drums with an all female group, The Three Vs, toured with Floyd Ray’s Big Band and had their own “soundies” (what we now call music videos).
The Central Avenue Jazz Festival is free and open to the public. Bryant's panel happens on Saturday morning, July 31 at 11:00 a.m.
This year’s line-up features a Latin flavor with The Justo Almario Quartet; Susie Hansen Latin Jazz Band; And The Donald Vega Latin Jazz Project. Other Performers Include Reggie Andrews’ Los Angeles Multi-School Band; Dwight Trible Band; Barbara Morrison Band; Nate Morgan Band; Cjs Quintet; Ernie Andrews Band; Isaac Smith Expressions; And The Gerald Wilson Orchestra. Jose Rizo and James Janise from KJAZ will serve as masters of ceremonies.
There will also be a tribute to jazz DJ Chuck Niles and the legendary Ray Charles.
“I met him (Charles) in 1948, when Quincy (Jones) had just graduated from high school (in Seattle),” Bryant said. “Quincy was playing trumpet with Bumps Blackwell. Ray was just getting ready to come down here to do his first album. We’d all get in a cab and go to another club and hang out.”
Being a female who played the trumpet was very unusual in the 1930s. “I was the only one,” Bryant explained. “That was nervy. My kids say, ‘yeah Ma, you had some balls at that time.’ We covered new territory. We didn’t have as many privileges open to us until the early 40s when all the movie stars and the whites out West and North, Beverly Hills and Brentwood started coming down to Central Avenue and dropping money. The white girls started hanging with the black guys. (LAPD) Chief Parker didn’t like that. And most of his officers were from the South, so you know they didn’t like that.”
Born in Denison Texas, Bryant’s father use to take her to see Bessie Smith and minstrel shows. She started playing trumpet in high school, after her brother went to the military and left his instrument behind. She played in the marching band, the municipal band and a local swing band. In 1943, she joined the all-female band at Prairie View College and became one of its star soloists.
Bryant moved to Los angels in 1945 where she jammed in Central Avenue clubs; worked with the all female group, The Queens of Swing, in the late 1940s; and became a member of the house band at the Club Alabam in the early 1950s. In 1951, she was one of the first women to play jazz on television as part of the all-female Hollywood Sepia tones. In 1957, she made an album under her own name, Gal With a Horn, on which she played and sang.
She has taught jazz history at UCLA, USC, Pasadena City College, El Camino College and Santa Monica College.
“We had a lot of togetherness back then,” she added. “That’s what I use to teach in my classes. I hope the young people will come out to find out where the music comes from, so they can do the hip hop and the pop. It all started with the jazz tree. I want to let them know you have to reach back and bring it all with you. I played New Orleans jazz, swing and Bebop. I always kept the flavor of what came before.”
Bryant said she also wants to teach young people how to put feelings into their music. She expressed dismay that now most schools just teach kids how to play notes, but leave out the feelings.
In 1989, at the invitation of President Mikhal Gobachov, Bryant toured the Soviet Union. She has received three National Endowment for the Arts awards; the Lil Hardin Armstrong Award from the Women’s Caucus of the International Association of Jazz Educators; and in 2002 was honored at the Kennedy Center with the Mary Lou Williams Award.
She is currently working on her autobiography as an audio book with music. She wrote it first as a regular book, but Bryant said it didn’t have the feelings she wanted until she added the music. “The first part is about my Daddy and me on the train coming to California,” she explained. “It opens with Ray Charles singing ‘California Here I Come.’ My whole life is about feelings. I had to put the music to capture the feelings.”
And after 46 years, she has recorded a CD, which she will be selling at the festival.
Other musicians who played Central Avenue clubs include Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Louis Armstrong.
The 2004 poster art for the Central Avenue Jazz Festival, "Black, Brown & blue Melodies" "Melodia en negro, moreno y azul," was created by Andy Rios, who grew up in the neighborhood and now lives in a artist loft downtown. It is spray paint art on concrete that represents the African and Latin roots of Jazz.
The festival will also feature an excerpt from the play "North On Central Avenue."
Produced by the Dunbar Economic Developmenet Corporation (EDC), the Central Avenue Jazz Festival is sponsored by the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, Council District Nine, Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles, L.A. Jazz Society, Music Performance Fund and the Coca~Cola Bottling Company.
Free parking for the festival is located at Wadsworth Elementary School, on Martin Luther Boulevard, a two block walk to the festival.
For more information about the Central Avenue Jazz Festival, please call the Dunbar EDC, 323/234-7882 or email@example.com.