A dauntingly fast guitarist, Georgia-born Jimmy Bryant (1925-1980) set out for California in 1947, after having fought in WWII. Like many musicians in the postwar era, he wound up in Los Angeles, looking for work on radio, in movies or in the studios, and by decade's end, he found it, hooking up with Capitol bigwig Cliffie Stone, who brought Bryant in as a key studio musician for the up-and-coming Capitol label. He worked on pop records as well as some of the biggest hits of the early-'Fifties hillbilly boogie era, songs such as Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Shotgun Boogie" and found movie work as part of Roy Rogers's crew. He also hooked up with pedal steel pioneer Speedy West, forming one of the most creatively fertile instrumental partnerships of the 'Fifties. Here's a quick look at his work...
Jimmy Bryant "Frettin' Fingers: The Lightning Guitar Of Jimmy Bryant" (Sundazed, 2003)
WOW. This 3-CD set includes seventy-five dazzling recordings Bryant cut between 1950 and '67, working first with Bryant over at Capitol, dense, crazy, wildly infectious tunes striped with a deep coloration of the bebop jazz that Bryant loved to play, and later, in the '60s where his work for Imperial Records took a more commercial turn, with a surfy, Ventures-y style taking over. These are flashy tunes for fans of pure picking, sometimes the style is repetitive, though when Bryant and his pals really hit their stride, on songs like "Stratosphere Boogie" or "Flippin' The Lid," the picking is nothing short of jaw-droppingly astounding. There are other Bryant reissues out there that just cover his work on Capitol -- which many consider to be his best work -- but it's also cool to hear what he did later on. And the extensive liner notes by reissue historians Rich Kienzle and Deke Dickerson are very informative and give a good glimpse into Bryant's life and times. Cool collection.
Jimmy Bryant & Speedy West "Stratosphere Boogie: The Flaming Guitars Of..." (Razor & Tie, 1995)
Jimmy Bryant & Speedy West "Swingin' On The Strings" (Razor & Tie, 1999)
Jimmy Bryant & Speedy West "Flamin' Guitars" (Bear Family, 1997)
A 4-CD box set...
Jimmy Bryant & Speedy West "There's Gonna Be A Party" (Jasmine, 2000)
Jimmy Bryant & Speedy West "Two Guitars Country Style" (Capitol, 1954)
Jimmy Bryant & Speedy West "Country Cabin Jazz" (Capitol, 1960)
Jimmy Bryant & Speedy West "For The Last Time" (Step One, 1990)
Jimmy Bryant & Buddy Emmons "Dave Burley's Jamfest Live At Roger's Musicland" (DAB, 2009)
Hick Music Index