The Sepianaires©2004JCMarion


The Sepianaires were a late 1940s vocal - instrumental combo on the periphery of the R & B circuit in Black nightspots. Joyce Bryant was the singer and was backed up by guitarist Jimmy Edwards, pianist Hilton Owens, and bassist Robert Lewis. By late 1949 Bryant had decided to go out on her own as a solo performer and her place as vocalist was taken over by Jeri Lee. They were an area attraction in Southern California during those years at nightclubs along Central Avenue in Watts and at places such as Mike's Waikiki Club and the Green Valley Ballroom. The group provides a nice mix of original songs and well known standards such as "Summertime", "God Bless The Child" and "Stormy Weather". They also provide a nice mix of tunes for listening or dancing.

In March of 1950 The Sepianaires are part of a huge Easter Promenade Show held by the Los Angeles Sentinel, the newspaper of the L.A. Black community. Radio personalities Hunter Hancock and Gene Norman will emcee and some of those on stage were Duke Henderson, The Bits Of Rhythm, Eddie Williams, Joe Lutcher, Calvin Boze, Scatman Crothers, and many others. The free concert is always a sold out affair (free admission) and one of the top events of the year. During the summer of 1950 The Sepianaires held forth in the San Francisco area and by the time they returned to their usual home base in Los Angeles that September they had added another vocalist, Jimmy Edwards. The new lineup opened at one of their favorite venues, Mike's Waikiki Club. The group crosses paths at another L.A. Sentinel affair late in the year. The annual Christmas Show held at the Lincoln Theater will headline Louis Armstrong. Besides The Sepianaires others on the show were Johnny Otis and his band with Little Esther, The Treniers, Jimmy Witherspoon, Monroe Tucker and his band, and Floyd Dixon.

In 1951 The Sepianaires continue to be a good draw at L.A. night clubs such as The Waldorf Cellar, Club Oasis, and The Show Time. By the end of 1951 however, the group broke up and became a memory of the times. Joyce Bryant the original vocalist, had an up and down career which was big on promise but little in the way of substance. She had the talent and the style, but personal problems kept getting in the way and she never fulfilled what so many saw in her future.

The Sepia-Tones©2004JCMarion


The Sepia-Tones (also sometimes known as The Hollywood Sepia-Tones) were another late forties group that were part of the great expanding Rhythm & Blues scene in Southern California. They were originally known as The International Sweethearts of Rhythm, then The Sweethearts of Swing and the members of the group were leader and bassist Ann Glasco, trumpet player Clora Bryant, Mattye Watson on drums, and Ann Bailey on piano, and saxist Perry Blackwell. Clora Bryant started playing trumpet while in high school and later at Prairie View College she became a member of the Prairie View Co-Eds swing band who played for a week at New York's Apollo Theater. After moving to Los Angeles in 1945 she joined a combo called the Queens Of Swing. With the Sepia-Tones she was part of groundbreaking performances on early television.

The Sepia-Tones were fixtures at the Groove Room in L.A. on weekends. They also played such night spots as the Oasis Club, Club Alabam, and Peacock Alley. During the spring of 1950 Jackie Glenn replaced Bailey, Willie Lee Floyd became the band's guitarist, and Blackwell left the group. They performed at an extended engagement at the New Orleans Swing Club in San Francisco where they appeared with nationally known singer Billy Daniels. In August the combo leaves for a series of one nighters throughout the Southwest beginning in Tulsa, Oklahoma and now includes tenor sax man Jack McVea (who had a monster hit in 1947 with his version of "Open The Door Richard" for the Black & White label). In December of 1950 continuing confusion with The Sepianaires, leads the group to consider a name change. They decide to call themselves The Four Jills.

The Four Jills did not last long and the group soon broke up and went their separate ways. Clora Bryant continued her trumpet playing at jazz venues in Southern california and by 1957 had released an LP album called "Gal With A Horn" in which she also did some vocals. Through the 60s and 70s she toured all over the world with Billy Williams, Bill Berry and his band, Johnny Otis, and Jimmy Cheatham. Clora retired from playing in the mid nineties but remained active in other ways. She has received numerous awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the International Association of Jazz Educators.

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