TSU News

Marching to the Beat of the Ocean's Drum

Texas Southern University’s Ocean of Soul Alumnus Gerald Bryant, Jr. didn’t have to go far to start his career in music. Bryant, known by many as “Gizmo” is the new band director at Jack Yates High School.

“I was very grateful, excited and relieved when I got the job,” Bryant said.

The Jack Yates band students and parents were already very familiar with Bryant. While a student at Texas Southern, “Gizmo” spent many hours over the years working for the band program in music workshops and clinics. “They didn’t know me as Mr. Bryant, I was "Gizmo" back then. The students said we want "Gizmo" to run our program, and the parents and alumni were all very supportive.”

Bryant came to Texas Southern from Beaumont Central High School in 2004. The tuba player was recruited by TSU assistant band director Darryl Singleton.

“Gizmo came to summer band camp while he was still in high school so he already had his sights set on TSU,” Singleton said. “He was one of our better tuba players and a talented musician who showed leadership almost immediately. He had responsibilities every day in the band room which prepared him for what he’s doing right now.”

Bryant, the son of a preacher, first showed an interest in music at Pilgrim Ridge Missionary Baptist Church in Beaumont where his father is the pastor. “I played organ and piano at the church every Sunday and that’s where a lot of my talent came from…straight from the church,“ boast Bryant.

In Houston, he stuck to his religious roots. “When I first came to TSU, I was a musician at Holman Street Baptist Church and that kept me balanced with life, school and band,” said Bryant.

Bryant was a stand out in the Ocean of Soul. He took over the tuba section in his sophomore year as section leader…a position he held until 2008. He graduated in 2010 then entered graduate school.

His real education began as a graduate assistant when he was allowed to arrange music, warm up and direct the band and put together field shows and drills.

By the time he earned his masters degree, the Kappa Kappa Psi band fraternity member says Texas Southern gave him the preparation and invaluable knowledge needed to excel. Now it’s just a matter of dedication and execution.

“I take music very seriously, but I have fun doing it,” Bryant said. “It’s more of a calling than a job for me and it’s in my heart to inspire and motivate the kids through music.”

The Jack Yates Marching Band’s first performance is Saturday, August 31, at Barnett Stadium.

“A lot of what you will see at Jack Yates will be influenced by the Ocean including some of their traditional music,” Bryant said. “ One thing I’m implementing with the kids from what I learned at Texas Southern is to do your very best, sound good, always train yourself to get better and above all be consistent, preserver and have fun.”

Bryant joins a long lineage of TSU band directors with connections to Jack Yates. Current TSU band director Richard Lee and former assistant band director Ronald Thornton both attended the historic high school.

“We are extremely proud to see Bryant doing what he’s been trained to do at Texas Southern,” Singleton said. “This has become a partnership of sorts because he does not have far to reach if he needs any help at all.”

A Texas Southern Tiger called to restore the roar to the Jack Yates Lion Marching Band.