I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My parents met and fell in love at a USO Dance in Albuquerque during WWII. Subsequently they had healthy respect for good music and they loved Big Band Jazz.
In 5th grade, students could rent any band instrument for $10 a month and take concert band classes 3 days a week during regular school hours. For me...there was only one choice...drums.
By 6th grade I had a drum set and a private teacher. I would practice for several hours every day after school.
In 1978 (I just turned 16) I played the 2nd Annual Telluride Jazz Festival with an all-original Jazz-Rock group "Govinda" from Albuquerque. We wrote our own music. We sent in a demo and got invited. Always send in that demo...you never know.
That weekend the artists were, McCoy Tyner, Ray Brown, Stan Getz, Betty Carter, Buddy Rich, Phil Woods, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, Matrix IV, AND Chick Corea with Gary Burton featuring a 21yr old Pat Metheny. ALL in one 3-day Festival!
Pat also played a set with his own trio: Danny Gotllieb-drums and Mark Egan-bass. "Bright Sized Life" with Jaco Pastorious and Bob Moses had just come out but this was all new to me. Since I had played on Friday, I had an "All Access" BackStage Pass! I watched most of the groups from the side of the stage - up close and personal. That 3-day festival was life changing for me. I started practicing 4-6 hours a day.
While still in High School, I started playing for real money on the weekends. By 19, I had a fake I.D. and was working in local bar bands around ABQ and Santa Fe.
In 1984, when I was 21, I moved myself to NYC with the dream of being a "world class" musician. I never looked back.
Over my 35+ year career, I've performed and/or recorded with: Carlos Santana, Babatunde Olatunji, Ornette Coleman, The Holmes Brothers, Kathryn Russell, Jaco Pastorious, Alan Pasqua, Coco Montoya, Dave Douglas, Adrian Belew, Dizzy Gillespie, Pinetop Perkins, Richard Lloyd, El Negro, Michael Spiro, Dr. Osamu Katijima, Cecilia Noel, Chris Calloway, Tim Pierce, Robert Mirabel, Hank Roberts, Kermit Driscoll, Reggie Wooten, Randy Tico, Al MacDowell, Lawson Rollins, Shahin Shahida, Airto Moreare, Flora Purim, Mads Tolling and Alex Murzyn.
I've also had the good fortune to study privately with: Tony Minstretta, Randy Castillo, Pete Amahl, Andrew Cyrille, Babatunde Olatunji, Vernel Fornea, Nana Vasconcelos, Frank Malebe, Roberto Barrell and Art Taylor.
"Bongos for Tracy" is my first solo endeavour and I thank all the artists I've had the privilege to work and study with, plus many more people who have helped me create my music. I hope you enjoy this tribute to my late brother Tracy Bryant.