Known for his strong, soulful tone, Bryant cut his teeth on tenor saxophone in Columbus, Ohio, quickly becoming a fixture of the local jazz scene. He worked with Tiny Grimes and Stomp Gordon before founding his own ensemble, the Carolyn Club Band, in 1951. In 1952, his live recording "All Nite Long" (a faster version of "Night Train") became a hit R&B single in the U.S.; however, it wasn't until his appearance on the 1968 Groove Holmes album That Healin' Feelin'that he rose beyond regional acclaim, and soon after he began leading dates for Prestige Records. He recorded extensively for the label from 1969 through the middle of the 1970s, being a sideman with soul-jazz heavyweights Ivan "Boogaloo Joe" Jones, Johnny "Hammond" Smith, Charles Kynard, and Sonny Phillips. He achieved breakthrough commercial success in 1970 with his album, Soul Liberation, which reached No. 35 on the U.S. Black Albums chart and No. 15 on the Top Jazz Albums chart.