Today brings us to the Ohio area, Columbus to be exact. We get there via Huntington, West Virginia, where a young saxophone player named Rusty Bryant grew up. In the 1950’s Bryant was a band leader, recording for Dot Records and basically playing all over Ohio and the region. By the end of the 1950’s his contract was up with Dot, and the gigs playing his version of “Night Train” were limited to the regional Ohio area. He had an affiliation with Jazz singer Nancy Wilson who was in his group, but he basically remained in the Buckeye State. All this would change some 10 years later when Bryant would pop up on Groove Holmes’ 1968 Prestige release That Healin’ Feelin’. His musical reach would go national, as he played as a sideman on a string of Prestige releases up until the mid 70’s with performers like Ivan “Boogaloo” Jones, Sonny Phillips and Johnny “Hammond” Smith. Bryant went on to record and perform until the mid 1980’s, and returned to Columbus where he passed in 1991.
Soul Liberation, by far his most well known commercial release, and the LP that this track “Cold Duck Time” comes from features some great players. With Idris Muhammad on drums, Melvin Sparks on guitar, Charles Earland on organ, and Virgil Jones on trumpet, this release pushed the term Soul Jazz further onto the public. Every player on this record is highlighted, from the fantastic trumpet playing by Jones to Earland’s soulful organ to the Sparks guitar we all love (by this time he was playing with Jack McDuff and Lou Donaldson) to Muhammad’s solid drumming and of course Bryant’s saxophone. While Bryant’s best side easily is “Fire Eater”, the next LP to be released on Prestige, “Cold Duck” time is an Eddie Harris joint that Bryant and company murder. Upbeat and ready to go, the sax and organ are perfectly in sync and Melvin Sparks plain kills it. While I don’t have “Fire Eater” (introduced to me by David Holmes) I do have Soul Liberation, which will cure your ills with Soul Jazz and nothing but Soul Jazz. Dig.