Saturday, June 04, 2011

Ray "Madison Time" Bryant Has Died At Age 79

Jazz pianist Ray Bryant, best-known in the pop world for his 1960 recording, "The Madison Time" (#30-1960) died Thursday (June 2) in a New York hospital at the age of 79. Originally a bass player, the Philadelphia native switched to piano, playing in the bands of Billy Kretchmer and Tiny Grimes and becoming the house pianist at the Blue Note Club in Philadelphia before starting his own combo in 1956. He also charted with "Shake A Lady" (#108-1964) and his version of "Ode To Billie Joe" (#89-1967). Ray was the uncle of "Tonight Show" bandleader Kevin Eubanks. Incidentally, that's Baltimore DJ Eddie Morrison, not Ray, doing the "calls" on "Madison Time," which was a popular dance at the time. The song was later featured in the original movie version of "Hairspray."