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The Carol Bryant Quartet
The Carol Bryant Quartet features Carol on vocals, Bruce Wood on guitar, Dave Arliss on bass and Steve Orlando on percussion and vocals. With a foundation in jazz standards and bossa nova, the quartet also plays a wide variety of acoustic music, including jazz-influenced favorites by Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Norah Jones, Michael Buble, Bruno Mars, and more.
The group started as a duo, when long-time Elbridge neighbors Carol and Bruce got together informally to play some tunes by the great Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. Carol is a life-long music educator, originally a classical pianist, whose love of vocal jazz led her away from the piano and to the microphone. For 11 years she directed the 7-piece group Swing Central, which won three separate Sammy Awards in the 1990’s. When that group disbanded, Carol was invited to be the female vocalist for The Ageless Jazz Band, a traditional big band based in Ithaca, with an annual tour to Aruba – nice work if you can get it! In 2015, Carol attended the New York Voices Vocal Jazz Camp, an experience that brought her jazz singing to a new level and inspired her to find a way to sing jazz more often with her own group. Carol has gone back to jazz camp each August since, continuing to learn from and be inspired by her vocal jazz idols.
Bruce Wood has studied many styles of guitar playing for decades, but had never played in a band. Bruce’s interest in bossa nova led him to ask Carol to “come over and try singing a few tunes.” Carol was happy to oblige, as she was also interested in this style of music – and because Bruce lived just four houses away! After rehearsing together for several months, they sought out a few local gigs at libraries and coffeehouses. Within a year, the duo decided to expand their repertoire and versatility by adding a bassist. Carol’s husband, Dick Ward, had played with Dave Arliss in several bands in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and suggested they contact Dave. Dave had played electric bass in many rock, blues, and folk bands, and along the way taught himself to play jazz on upright bass. One rehearsal together proved that Dave was a great fit, so the three began rehearsing as a trio.
In August 2016, the trio decided to record a demo CD to help market the group. They choose three songs and booked a session at SubCat Studios in Syracuse. The first session went so well they decided to continue on and record a full-length CD, bringing in a handful of other musician friends to play on a few of the tunes, including percussionist Steve Orlando, who later became a permanent member of the band. Their CD, The Carol Bryant Trio plus a few good friends, was released in late December 2016, just in time to be eligible for the 2017 SAMMY Awards. The Carol Bryant Trio was nominated in the category for “Best Jazz Group,” and while that award was given to another well-deserving band, the trio was thrilled to receive the recognition that came with the SAMMY nomination.
As the trio continued to develop their repertoire, they focused on swing, Great American Songbook ballads, bossa nova and other jazz styles. All three love the music of the 1930’s and 1940’s, and have great fun putting their own spin on traditional tunes. To keep things a bit more contemporary, they also added songs by Little River Band, Sting, Jason Mraz, Christina Perri, and others.
In the summer of 2019, Carol invited Steve Orlando to sit in with light percussion on a gig. Steve was also a founding member of Swing Central, served as drummer and vocalist in a variety of bands for several decades, and sings with Carol at the New York Voices Vocal Jazz Camp. The initial gig together – without rehearsal – was so successful that the trio instantly decided to ask Steve to join them permanently, and the band officially became the Carol Bryant Quartet.
The quartet is always working on new material, including songs from decades past as well as newer hits that catch their attention. They believe in songs that tell a story or touch an emotion, and only choose music that they know will speak to the audience. Carol, Bruce, Dave and Steve are committed to improving their personal musicianship and their performance as a quartet. They each believe that music is primarily for listeners, not performers, and are dedicated to giving their audience members a sincere, authentic, and personal musical experience each time they play. Happy listening!
SRO Performance
The Lakeside Performing Arts Series at St. James’ opens its doors to the entire Skaneateles community,
and beyond, by offering musical and artistic performances that have enchanted audiences since time in memoriam