Born: March 23, 1961 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
Saxophonist, vocalist, composer and arranger, Lance Bryant comes out of Markham, Illinois, a small town near Chicago. He received his formal music education at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, where he studied saxophone and, composition and arranging. During his tenure at Berklee, Lance fostered musical relationships with fellow classmates, saxophonists Branford Marsalis and Greg Osby, drummer Marvin Smitty Smith, trumpeter Wallace Roney, pianist Cyrus Chestnut and other renowned musicians. After graduation in 1983, Lance returned to IL to further his real world experience while exploring the Chicago music scene. He ultimately made the move to New York City in 1985.
In that same year, Lance received a National Endowment for the Arts Study Fellowship, which enabled him to study saxophone and arranging privately with Frank Foster, the former director of the Count Basie Orchestra. As a freelance artist in the late 1980s, Lance performed, toured and recorded with Steve Coleman, Monte Croft, Graham Haynes, and Lonnie Plaxico, the emerging artists of that time.
The 1990s ushered in a new chapter in a blossoming career. Lance's work as an artist was recognized by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and led to a prestigious artist-in-residency grant. Lance rounded out his professional experience by teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation at New York City's famed JazzMobile and began his decade-long relationship with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. In 1993, Lance became the Orchestra's Musical Director and Principal Arranger � a role in which he served for seven years. In 1998, Lance added producer to his list of musical credits with the release of Hamp's 90th Birthday Celebration CD on GEM Records. In addition to his international and national touring schedule with Lionel Hampton, Lance also made his film debut in Spike Lee's Malcolm X and traveled extensively with Phyllis Hyman, Jon Hendricks, Pete LaRocca Sims, Wallace Roney, Abdulah Ibrahim, Bootsy Collins and others.
Every February for the last fourteen years, Lance has spent a week in Moscow, Idaho at the Lionel Hampton School of Music at the University of Idaho for the school's celebrated annual jazz festival. Over the years his involvement in the festival as grown from performer to arranger to jazz clinician. In this role as clinician, Lance serves as a mentor for countless young jazz enthusiasts. As a performer, he has shared the stage with seasoned performers such as Diane Reeves, Roy Hargrove, Lou Rawls, and Kenny Baron. His work has been featured in local area newspapers and documented in a European magazine, Crescendo, where he was featured on its April 2002 cover.
In the early summer of 2000, Lance auditioned and was selected as an on-stage musician for the Broadway production of the musical review Swing!. As a member of the Gotham City Gates, the show's eight piece jazz and swing band, Lance shared the stage with Ann Hampton-Callaway, a veteran cabaret singer, and Everett Bradley as well as some of New York's top dancers for almost two years. Swing! received six Toni nominations and the self-titled cast album received a Grammy nomination for best musical recording. During the show's run, Lance performed on the Rosie Show and the Today Show to help promote Swing! Lance enjoys making his own musical contribution to today's swing scene with his own popular band, Lance Bryant and the Smoovetones, and as a saxophonist, vocalist, arranger and composer for George Gee and the Jump, Jive and Wailers, one of the east coast's most preeminent swing bands.
Throughout his music career, Lance's talents as an arranger, composer, saxophonist or vocalist have been featured on many projects. Most notable are: For the Love of Jazz on Mojazz Records (Lionel Hampton) on which he arranged the Stevie Wonder tune, Don't You Worry ‘Bout A Thing for the late Tito Puente, Swingin' Live and Buddha Boogie on Swing46 Records (George Gee) and Dem Bones and Simply Natural on MaxJazz Records (Carla Cook). (For a complete discography, click on the Music Navigator.)
Lance's work as an arranger reaches beyond traditional borders and is no longer limited to domestic recordings: He was recently commissioned to arrange and conduct a program of music for the NDR Big Band in Hamburg for radio broadcast throughout Germany. With this project, Lance follows in the venerable tradition of some of music's greatest arrangers such as Quincy Jones and Thad Jones.
Recognizing the role that his spirituality plays in the creation and expression of his work, Lance currently serves as Director of Instrumental Music at Fountain Baptist Church in Summit, NJ, where he and his family are members and where is he committed to devoting his talent to the church.
The culmination of his experience -- his musical journey -- has given birth to his debut recording project. Recorded in March 2001, his first CD, entitled Psalm, was released in October 2002 and has been very well-received. His second project, called Testify!, a jazz gospel CD was released in December 2002 and is also a favorite with his fans. He has recently completed work on his third project, recorded live in New York City at St. Peter's Church in May 2005. This project, called Count it All Joy, was released in March 2006.