Lyman Woodard Organization ‘Don’t Stop The Groove’ 180g Vinyl (Pure Pleasure) 3/5

Pure Pleasure Records are happy to release this classic live recording of the Lyman Woodard Organization featuring the highly acclaimed trumpeter Marcus Belgrave. Recorded in 1979, ‘Don’t Stop the Groove’ features five tracks. The music epitomises the depth and soul that has long been associated with the Motor City sound with an infectious blend of disco, soul and contemporary jazz all uniquely wrapped up with an inclusive feel and warmth towards the audience on the night.

The album was performed at the popular Detroit jazz venue Cobbs Corner and recorded on Corridor Records; a label set up by both Lyman Woodard and Marcus Belgrave and named after the Detroit neighbourhood Cass Corridor. As well as Marcus Belgrave, Lyman Woodard’s Organisation also features the esteemed saxophonist Alan Barnes who was the founding member of the legendary Blackbyrds group. He most recently featured on Carl Craig’s excellent Detroit Project album back in 2002; a project which pulled together some of the best musicians, past and present, with highlights including the re-interpretation of Donald Byrd’s classic ‘Think Twice’ recording.

Percussionist and vocalist Lorenzo Brown was an integral part of the definitive Bohannon sound throughout the ’70s and his energy and style adds a real spirit to the proceedings. During the 1970s he featured on some memorable soul and jazz albums, including those by The Dramatics, The Detroit Emeralds and Wendell Harrison. More recently he was featured on Amp Fiddlers ‘Waltz of a Ghetto Fly’ album.

The album opens with an introduction of the band before the title track warms up the crowd with a mid-tempo catchy groove reminiscent of the familiar timeless Roy Ayers’ sound. There’s a slight similarity in Lyman’s Hammond B3 style to that of Brian Auger, which emanates throughout the album adding a strong rhythm and blues feel to the track. Guitarist Robert Lowe wrote the song and he also adds some sparse and punchy vocals to the track.

The psychedelic funk groove of ‘Disco Tease’ and ‘Theme in Search Of a Sportspectacular’ are both lively uptempo grooves showcasing the band’s dynamic side, and the latter is a real highlight from the album with drummer Leonard King and percussionist Lorenzo Brown setting the tone for Marcus Belgrave, who leads the way throughout the track with some sparked solos which received warm feedback from the audience on this live recording.

‘Down Lowe’ is a solid midtempo funk strutting groove with a heavy bassline that could easily slot onto some of the quintessential Daptone releases of more recent times. It’s easy to imagine the whole place hooked and reeled onto any dance space with this memorable effervescent number.

The last track on the album is a downtempo reflective piece featuring Kerry Campbell’s soprano saxophone. Check out his track ‘Underground Express’ from his only album release in 1988 titled ‘Phoenix Rising’. The track featured on the BGP compilation ‘Jazz Today volume 1’ back in 1989 alongside tracks by Hank Crawford, Sonny Rollins and others.

In 1975 Lyman Woodard recorded the seminal ‘Saturday Night Special’ album on the independent Detroit based label Strata that was formed by Kenny Cox in the late 1960s. The album was then reissued by both Wax Poetics in 2009 and BBE Music in 2017 and it’s an out and out classic. The live recording of ‘Don’t Stop The Groove’ was recorded five years later and whilst it may not have the same level of appeal as ‘Saturday Night Special’, it’s a strong album and a welcome release.

Mark Jones