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David Bryant; Bassist for Many Jazz Greats

Obituaries

May 11, 2000

David Bryant, 78, a jazz bassist who performed with such legendary players as Benny Carter, Nat Cole, Dexter Gordon and Gerald Wilson and was a member of Horace Tapscott's Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra. Born in Chicago, Bryant moved to Los Angeles with his mother and brother when he was 2. He was drawn to music at an early age, but family finances kept him from playing an instrument until junior high school. He began on a violin but later switched to bass, which he learned to play in the band at Jordan High School. During World War II, Bryant enlisted in the Army and played in the Army band, serving in North Africa and Italy. While in Naples, he went to the opera once a week because he liked the orchestra. His desire to stay in Europe after the war was foiled when he contracted tuberculosis and had to return to Los Angeles on a hospital ship. Over the next few years, he recovered completely from the disease and continued his musical education, playing with Buddy Collette and Charles Mingus and studying with such influential teachers as Red Callender and Lloyd Reese. A sought-after session player, Bryant also toured with pianist-singer Nellie Lutcher. In "Central Avenue Sounds: Jazz in Los Angeles," a collection of oral history pieces published some years ago, Bryant recalled that growing up in Watts "was no problem. You could leave your door open. And the kids knew they had to walk a straight line, because the neighbors would kick their behinds too." A longtime resident of South-Central Los Angeles, Bryant said the reason he stayed was "to work with the kids. . . . Because that's what it's all about, man: passing it on and trying to encourage the youngsters." On May 1 of prostate cancer at Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center.

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