Lyman Woodard Organization – Don’t Stop The Groove – Corridor Records LW-1353 (1979)/Pure Pleasure Records (2020) 180-gram stereo vinyl, 32:36 ****1/2:
(Lyman Woodard – organ; Leonard King – drums; l Marcus Belgrave – trumpet; Robert Lowe – guitar, vocals; Lorenzo Brown – percussion, vocals; Kerry Campbell – soprano saxophone; Allan Barnes – tenor saxophone; Ron Jackson – trumpet; Leroy Emmanuel – vocals)
There are times when a musical venue shares the cultural spotlight with artists that played there. In jazz circles, this is especially true. One of these spots is Cobb’s Corner in Detroit. During the seventies and early 80’s, a blend of urban rhythm and blues intermingled with contemporary jazz defined this era and its bands. One of these musicians was organist Lyman Woodard. He emerged in Detroit lore at Motown as the musical director for Martha And The Vandellas. Additionally, Woodard formed a trio, and released an album titled Hair And Thangs with Dennis Coffey. While the live 1975 album, Saturday Night Special (Corridor Records) put Woodard on the map, Don’t Stop The Groove solidified his legacy.
Pure Pleasure Records has released a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl of Don’t Stop The Groove. Recorded at Cobb’s Corner, it is a lively five-song set that emphasizes the style of the Lyman Woodard Organization. Side A opens with the flat-out soul jam title track. A funk rhythm section (Robert Lowe/guitar and Leonard King/drums) lay down a sustained groove as Woodard infuses sauciness with his measured Hammond licks. There is a vocal one-line repeat that further underscores the soul aesthetics. Tenor saxophone (Allan Barnes) expands the texture, first with gritty. energy, and then with a jazzy edge. In the middle, is a nimble organ solo with hooks and a sustain flourish. “Disco Tease” is different than its title suggests. It is festive, “house-party” accessible with a muscular arrangement. The addition of congas (Lorenzo Brown) adds another element. Woodard’s organ solo is jaunty, and there are some crisp tempo breaks. It is evident that ensemble cohesion is at the heart of this band.
Side B keeps the momentum going. On “Theme In Search Of A Sportspectacular”, an explosive tempo is set by guitar, organ and piano. There are a pair of trumpet solos (Marcus Belgrave/Ron Jackson). The former is jazz-influenced with sharp, fluid notes that electrify the audience. A drum/conga percussion jam is relentless, and leads into an adroit fade out. The next song (“Down Lowe’) mixes soul jazz and rock with a trumpet lead. Guitar and organ take over on the chorus. When the tenor saxophone assumes the spotlight, the smoky tonality is hypnotic. As the number progresses, the overall sound is thicker. The finale, “Djarum” is a distinct change of pace,. Reaching back for soul-laden balladry, it is slower, and approximates a dance vibe. As with all of the arrangements, there is complexity that showcases jazzy nuances. Soprano saxophone (Kerry Campbell) injects a lighter, airy resonance, followed by swelling instrumental vibrancy. Woodard’s final organ solo may be his finest. it is low-keyed, but graceful and exquisite in the delivery.
Pure Pleasure Records has done its customary outstanding job in re-mastering Don’t Stop The Groove to 180-gram vinyl. The sound mix is balanced and crisp. When the full ensemble is playing, it is not dense. Very little of the crowd noise is present. This pressing has minimal surface noise and no hisses or pops.
Side A: Don’t Stop The Groove; Disco Tease
Side B: Theme In Search Of A Sportspectacular; Down Lowe; Djarum
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