Madison Time: Jazz Pianist Ray Bryant's 1960 Hit Singles

Monday, 02 April 2018 04:50 AM Written by 

 Madison Time LP cover

Philly-born Ray Bryant, the much-admired jazz pianist (1931-2011), left behind a considerable legacy of great jazz. Amid that legacy are two recordings that transcended the niche-market jazz audience to reach far wider audiences and managed to score on the Pop and R&B charts in the 60's.

You know the first Bryant favorite, "The Madison Time (Part 1)" from this movie:

1988: The original Hairspray: "The Corny Collins Show" "Madison Time" dance scene. The Madison was a dance rooted in the Midwest that spread east to Baltimore in 1959. Hairspray creator John Waters based this fictional, American Bandstand-like show on Baltimore's popular Buddy Deane Show over WJZ-TV, where the dance got considerable exposure.

The issue of integration, addressed in the movie, was a real-life problem for Deane. In Baltimore, where some Old South traditions still held sway, black and white dancers could not mix in the studio; the show had to bring in only black dancers on certain days. The ongoing issue played a major role in the show's 1964 cancellation.

But what about the song itself? A 2005 Bryant profile in JazzTimes magazine by writer Ed Berger offers some surprising revelations.

Celebrated Columbia Records producer John Hammond, who during that time, was about to sign both Aretha Franklin (as a jazz vocalist) and Bob Dylan, was in search of commercial ideas. Bryant joined him on a trip to Baltimore, where the Madison was catching on with teenagers. He asked Bryant if he could come up with a song that fit the dance. The pianist thought of a 12-bar riff instrumental he wrote, titled "Shuckin' and Jivin'," and figured it was adaptable.

He recorded it in New York on March 16, 1959. It would be released in 1960.

"Madison Time Part 1 and 2" Bryant, piano; Tommy Bryant (Ray's brother), bass; Harry "Sweets" Edison, trumpet; Urbie Green, trombone; Buddy Tate, tenor sax; Billy English, drums. Baltimore disc jockey Eddie Morrison added the dance calls.

On the single, Part 1, the A-side was the dance number; Part 2, the B-side, was straight instrumental. Edison and Tate were both veterans of the Count Basie orchestra.

madison 45 cover

 The sleeve of the single with the dance steps.

In the spring of 1960, "Madison Time Part 1" reached # 5 on Billboard's R&B charts, # 30 on its pop chart and became a huge hit in Baltimore. It's Madison Time became Bryant's second Columbia LP. It wasn't Bryant's only jazz hit to reach beyond the jazz market in 1960. He'd recorded an instrumental titled "Little Susie" for the Signature label in September, 1959. Signature released the single in 1960.

1959: "Little Susie Part 4" It became a # 12 R&B single.



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