“Lift Off,” the lead track and new single to Blair Bryant’s first full length album and debut for Innervision Records, titled Gold, is a dynamic start to a joyously melodic and grooving journey by an artist whose vibe and multitude of talents as a composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist has earned acclaim and heavy predictions of success by rock, blues, R&B and contemporary jazz greats like Keb’ Mo, Jimmy Jam, Nick Colionne and new label mate Blake Aaron. The Kansas City based Bryant laid a powerful foundation for Gold with his breakthrough 2015 EP New Colours, whose track “Lightning Bug” hit the Top Ten on the Groove Jazz chart and received acclaim as one of the genre’s Top Ten new CDs that year.
Bryant is a true musical prodigy counting among his influences on the bass the late Wayman Tisdale, Stanley Clarke and Marcus Miller. A fierce bassist whose arsenal includes the upright double bass, electric standard and fretless basses, Bryant, the consummate musician also plays guitar, drums, percussion, keyboards and vibraphone. Bryant, who co-produced Gold with his father and manager Damon, plays a wide variety of instruments on the 11 track collection, and his piano solos are as explosive and dazzling as his lead bass lines and improvisations.
While Bryant’s earlier compositions featured keys as more of the focal point, he shifted towards the bass as his lead melodic voice. “The bass is the foundation of the groove, and gets into your soul. On most songs, it’s the instrument that makes you move. The bass has a primal quality and is very expressive and soothing. But it can also be powerful and percussive.”
Adding fresh textures to his virtual one-man-band flow are saxophonist Houston Smith, on “Lift Off” and the horn fired funk jam “Killa B”; Alisa Bryant, who contributes vocals to the super-jazzy and romantic Quiet Storm ballad “Just For You”; and flutist Ernest Melton, who trades off whimsical lead lines with Bryant before the two join forces and intertwine on the spirited title track “Gold.” The only track featuring a full band is the sensual, easy flowing “Outstanding,” which was penned by The Gap Band and features Bryant’s arsenal of instruments in ensemble with guitarist Derek Greenwood, drummer Zach Morrow and lead vocalist Joe Gallant.
Other key tracks on Gold include the high energy “Secret Agent,” which showcases Bryant’s colorful duality on bass and keys and includes a tradeoff between his buoyant bass jamming and fiery electric guitar solo; the sensuous, mid tempo cool of “My Gift,” featuring the elegant side of his piano playing; and the wistfully romantic “Mama’s Pearls,” displaying the dreamier side of his bass and piano magic.
“The tracks on the Gold project are a little warmer and have more of an R&B flavor to them than those of my EP,” he says. “On Gold, I wanted to show more range and versatility while continuing to refine my sound, with more funk, fusion, touches of real R&B and a deeper showcase of my piano work.”