Ray Bryant was an American jazz pianist and composer, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although he could always play bop, Ray Bryant's playing combined together older elements (including blues, boogie-woogie, gospel, and even stride) into a distinctive, soulful, and swinging style.
Bryant started his career playing with Tiny Grimes in the late '40s. He became the house pianist at The Blue Note in Philadelphia in 1953, where he backed classic jazz greats (including Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Lester Young) and made important contacts. Bryant settled in New York in 1959, played with Sonny Rollins, Charlie Shavers, and Curtis Fuller; and soon had his own trio. He had a few funky commercial hits (including "Little Susie" and "Cubano Chant") that kept him working for decades. After a lengthy illness, Ray Bryant died in Queens, New York on June 2, 2011; he was 79 years old.