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Ray Bryant Combo

The Madison Time, Part 1

Ray Bryant Combo

The Madison Time, Part 1

At least two Madison records originated in the Baltimore-Philly area, where the dance itself originated. Al Brown’s Tunetoppers recorded The Madison, but it got a run for its money from Philadelphia-born Ray Bryant’s The Madison Time. The latter became a bigger hit at the time (#5 in the R&B charts and #30 on the Hot 100), and was revived by local film producer, John Waters, in 'Hairspray'….a scabrous parody of Buddy Deane’s afternoon TV dance party where the Madison was first danced. Bryant’s record featured a miniature who’s who of mainstream jazzmen. In addition to Bryant himself on piano, there was Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison on trumpet, Buddy Tate on sax, and Urbie Green on trombone.

Bryant’s record cemented the Baltimore connection with the presence of one-time area dee-jay, Eddie Morrison, handling the vocals. Bryant, who came from a family of gospel pianists and organists, began recording in 1955 (his nephew, incidentally, is Jay Leno’s bandleader on 'The Tonight Show', Kevin Eubanks). He worked as Carmen McRae’s accompanist in 1956-1957, and moved to New York later that year, working with Dixieland revivalists as well as modernists like Donald Byrd and Sonny Rollins. Bob Thiele signed Bryant to his Signature label early in 1959, and they scored a jukebox hit with Little Susie. Veteran jazz A&R man John Hammond landed Bryant a gig as the house pianist at the 1959 Newport Jazz Festival, and when Hammond was rehired by Columbia Records in 1960, he immediately signed Bryant together with Aretha Franklin (whom Bryant accompanied on records). ”I signed Ray to make single records for jukeboxes for the Negro market,” Hammond recalled in his autobiography. “This growing slice of the total market for records had been barely touched by Columbia. ‘It’s Madison Time’ capitalized on [that].” As of this writing, Bryant is still among us, but his caller, Eddie Morrison, died in 1987.

Various - Blowing The Fuse 1960

Classics That Rocked The Jukebox

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