Lyman Woodard

74/93 Live: At Last!!

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This is one of several unearthed recordings by Detroit organist Lyman Woodard issued after he passed away. It's two separate sessions in live club dates from 1974 at J.J.'s Lounge in the Shelby Hotel and 1993 at Sully's in Dearborn, MI. Recorded on a reel-to-reel tape deck and a cassette-armed boom box with a condenser microphone, respectively, the digitally enhanced sound is decent but not great overall -- thin, not distorted, but balanced. With guitarist Ron English and drummer Leonard King, Woodard sounds relaxed, in good spirits, and above all inspired. So does English, and where he might be tentative in spots, he still runs rings around many other players on his instrument. The four tracks from 1974 display a good bop sensibility, a ballad, and English's spirited bossa-funk "Even Today," which represents the soul sound of Detroit at the time. Of the other six cuts, Woodard's pithy, rich, personalized penchant for Latin boogaloo crops up in parallel tunes "Lyman's Montuno" and "Belle Isle Daze," similar to his very famous composition "Cheeba." There's also more R&B on the latter-period set, including a rousing version of "I Got a Woman" sans vocals. These self-aggrandized "gems of music" will likely appeal only to completists or those just discovering Woodard, prompting them to acquire his seminal, definitive efforts.

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