Ray Bryant

Cold Turkey

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This 1964 release finds versatile pianist Ray Bryant in a crowd-pleasing frame of mind. The 12 tracks provide solid grooves, lyrical ballads, blues, calypso, a bit of boogie-woogie, and more. Supported by a lively, yet unremarkable, rhythm section, the accessible melodies, riffs, and rhythms stream effortlessly from Bryant's fingers. Though he works well within the structure of each piece, the pianist's impressive technique, facility, and encyclopedic musicianship are constant, as is the sense that Bryant is content to make enjoyable music that makes no demands on the audience. Bryant's populist approach here does little to satisfy listeners looking for more from a pianist whose reliable, steadfast, and frequently inventive presence can be heard on recordings by jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Tiny Grimes, Jo Jones, Coleman Hawkins, Art Taylor, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, and others. On Davis' great 1955 release Quintet & Sextet, which includes one of Bryant's compositions, the pianist reveals himself as a player very much attuned to Davis' smouldering cool. On Sonny Rollins on Impulse!, from 1965, Bryant confirms his skills, as he calmly negotiates the unpredictable, idiosyncratic trajectory of Rollins' version of "On Green Dolphin Street." While such moments of probing brilliance are not to be found on Cold Turkey, Bryant's skill remains beyond reproach. Cold Turkey may not be a great jazz date, but it's solid entertainment. Bryant is apparently quite content with that.

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