Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Lyman Woodard was born March 3rd, 1942 in Owosso, Michigan and started his formal musical training at age four on the piano. In 1962, he attended the Oscar Peterson School of Contemporary Music in Toronto, Canada. After hearing a performance of the great Jimmy Smith in 1963, he was convinced that this was his future and he made the switch from piano to the Hammond B3 organ. Lyman formed the first Lyman Woodard Trio in 1965 along with fellow musicians Melvin Davis on drums & vocals and Dennis Coffey on guitar.

In 1973, Lyman became the musical director for Martha and the Vandellas. By 1974, he was anxious to have his own band again and reformed the Lyman Woodard Trio with fellow musicians Leonard King on drums and Ron English on guitar.

Later that year he expanded his band by adding alto saxophonist Norma Jean Bell and percussionist Lorenzo Brown, and changed the name to the Lyman Woodard Organization. For the next 11 years, the "Organization" played the clubs and venues of the midwest, changing members occasionally and opening shows for artists such as Billy Paul, MFSB, Bob James, the Jazz Crusaders, Gil Scott Heron, Herbie Hancock, Tito Puente & his Latin Jazz Ensemble and James "Blood" Ulmer. The Lyman Woodard Organization disbanded in the late 1980s.

"Saturday Night Special" is a great set of hypnotic organ funk from Lyman Woodard. Woodard's electric piano, organ and occasional mellotron and Norma Bell's alto saxophone lend a cosmic funk aspect throughout, very much like Death Wish-era Herbie Hancock. Ron English accents the thing perfectly with his languid guitar and bass groove, while Leonard King and Lorenzo Brown's drumming and percussion can keep the groove adrift, or tear it up in a funky maelstrom depending on the mission of the cut. It's totally essential Strata jazz funk -- and below is an mp3 of the track "Creative Musicians." (Gotta love the simplicity of the name, right?)

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