Willie Bryant (30.08.1908-09.02.1964), born in New Orleans, grew up in Chicago where he tried to learn trumpet, with little success. In 1926 he made his first steps in show business as a dancer in the Whitman Sister's Show.
For several years, he performed in vaudeville and in 1934 he appeared as a singer with Bessie Smith in the show Chocolate Revue.
In late 1934, Willie Bryant formed his big band and from 1935-1938, they had six recording sessions. Among his sidemen were at times: Ted Wilson (piano), Cozy Cole (drums), Johnny Russell (tenor sax), Benny Carter (trumpet), Ben Webster (tenor sax), Eddie Durham (trombone, arrangements), Ram Ramirez (piano) and Taft Jordan (trumpet, vocals). Bryant sang on 18 of the 26 recorded sides.
After breaking up the big band, Bryant became an actor, MC and DJ.
In 1945 he recorded as R&B singer, from 1946-1948 he led another big band and recorded two numbers. In 1949 he hosted an all-black television variety show and in the 1950's be was best known as regular MC at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem.
A Viper's Moan
A Viper's Moan was written by Willie Bryant and is a laid-back tune. The rhythm section with piano, guitar and drums (with percussion elements) is solid swinging while the horn section almost is whimpering (or moaning, as the title says).
Some of the solos are played in a typical call and response concept. Bryant himself is talking – not singing – throughout the song, and one time he is also introducing the soloists.
For the non-native English speakers: A viper is in American English another word for marijuana smoker… I guess, the song's title and sound picture makes sense now 🙂
A great song for Lindy Hop dancers and for Balboa beginner classes. I love it!
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