Clora Bryant, who broke barriers as a jazz trumpet player, dies at 92

Had she been a singer, she might have been an American star. Had she been a piano player, record labels might have lined up to sign her.

But Clora Bryant played the trumpet and attention came slowly, when it came it all.

“When you put that iron in your mouth, you run into problems,” Bryan told The Times in a 1998 interview. “The other horn players gave me respect, but the men who ran the clubs considered me a novelty.

A barrier breaker who stood firm in her resolve to be a respected jazz trumpet player despite the open sexism that shadowed her, Bryant died Aug. 25 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She was 92.

Life as a jazz trumpeter was an uphill battle, said her son Darrin, who confirmed her death. “It was a man’s world and that made it hard for her. But that only fueled her fire, made her more determined.”

Bryant played the trumpet with such passion and fury that she became a mainstay in the growing jazz scene along Central Avenue in the 1940s. Dizzy Gillespie once told Los Angeles Times jazz critic Leonard Feather that Bryant was the most underrated trumpet player in L.A. And when she played the Riviera in Las
Vegas, Louis Armstrong was so impressed that he hustled up his band and joined her onstage.

“We did ‘Basin Street Blues’ together,” she said, smiling at the memory.

But by 1992 she was living on Social Security, staying at a son’s Long Beach apartment and…

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