Proportioned Orchestra plays the featured first set of the evening with a wide variety of material: calypso, blues, jazz, rock, & more. It's pleasantly surprising hearing 3 bassists and 1 drummer/vocalist playing arrangements with the comfort and dexterity of a typical band. Founded in 1989 by King and bassist Rodney Whitaker. Since then the group has become orchestral with plenty of room for improvisation.
PROPORTIONED ORCHESTRA: Sam Copperman, Jeff Cuny, Rocco Popielarski, Samuel Harris -basses; Dr. Prof. Leonard King-drum set & vocals.
Oopapada, named after the famous Babs Gonzales composition of the mid 1940's, was formed in March of 1995. Dr. Prof. Leonard King-drums & vocals, Chris Codish-organ, & Robert Tye-guitar were the original group. Since then, Oopapada has become a formidable quintet.
This 16-piece ensemble has two notable differences in comparison to the typical orchestra with numerically the same members: a soprano saxophone functions as the "third trumpet" in the brass section, and there is a full, four-member drums/percussion section as opposed to the typical "rhythm section" in which there is only one drummer playing the drum set among piano, guitar, & bass.
This ensemble is the outgrowth of a March 2010 concert which featured primarily the orchestrated compositions of the late organist Lyman Woodard, of which Leonard and Ron were members of his groups over the course of a 35 year period that began in 1973. Since then annual concerts are presented featuring more orchestrations of Lyman's works and his arrangements of compositions by others. The 2-disc CD, The Lyman Woodard Organization Orchestra, was released in October 2010.
Leonard decided to maintain the same band members to perform his own works as well as his arrangements of the works of other composers. After rediscovering several of his own compositions, including four suites of which only one he actually recalled writing, it was time to dust off the manuscripts and bring this "new" music to life.
The Dr. Prof. Leonard King Orchestra has 6 CD's and counting.
The Lyman Woodard Organization for the Arts' mission encompasses the fostering of the creative spirit through the production and presentation of performances and exhibits in venues accessible to all audiences.
On February 14, 1989 my Mother sent me a huge 8” x 10” birthday card manufactured by Hallmark titled “The Birthday Times”. The format loosely assimilated headlines of the daily newspapers. Under the heading, “News of the Month”, are three entries. One of them states, “Truman introduces civil rights to end segregation of schools & employment”. Another heading titled, “People Who Share Your Birthday” included comedian Jack Benny (1894) out of six entries. Columbia Records created and introduced the long-playing phonograph record, and Michelin introduced the first radial tires. What really got my attention was the heading “Life in the U.S.A – Then & Now” that made certain comparisons between 1948, the year of my birth, and 1989, the year of my 41st birthday. The average income per person in 1948 was $3,187, and in 1989--$30,453. One gallon of gasoline in 1948 cost $0.26, and in 1989--$0.93. A brand new Ford automobile in 1948 cost $1,150, and in 1989--$10,879. One gallon of milk in 1948 cost $0.88, and in 1989--$2.32.
Leonard King and the Soul Messengers began as a family band featuring Leonard (drums), Gregory (alto sax), and Atiba, his birth name was Larry before he changed it, (cornet). At first we called ourselves the Kings of Rhythm, obviously because of our last name. Soon afterwards we we called ourselves the Jazz Sextet. This initial phase happened between 1960-62. In mid-1962 our group expanded to include Adelphia Hill, trumpet, Richard Sims, tenor sax, and Darryl Moore, bass. In the fall of 1963 Richard Sims left and was replaced by Charles Eubanks on alto sax. Since the group already had three horn players, Eubanks suggested that he play piano, in which the members readily agreed. By mid-1964 he left to join The Six Lads who were mentored by pianist Harold McKinney. Immediately afterwards George Rountree replaced Eubanks as the pianist. This personnel stayed intact until the fall of 1966 when Frank Garcia replaced Moore as the bassist. In those days we performed for all kinds of social events throughout the metro Detroit area.
We attended Southwestern High School in Detroit and it was here where we met famed pianist/organist Earl Van Dyke who was invited to be one of the judges at our school talent shows. In December, 1967 he invited us to attend one of the Blue Monday presentations at the Chit Chat Lounge on Detroit' s west side. We had the honor of playing the instruments that belonged to the house band--the now-famous Funk Brothers(Earl Van Dyke, Robert White, guitar, James Jamerson, bass, Uriel Jones, drums, & Dangerous Dan Turner, tenor sax (however, during the evening that we performed Eli Fountaine Sr. was there playing alto saxophone). This is the band that played for all of the Southwestern High proms from 1965-69 (ain' t that somethin'). Oh by the way, there were only FIVE Funk Brothers--the guys mentioned above. All others were Motown studio musicians. The movie doesn't tell the real story at all!!
In September, 1967 Adelphia Hill left and was replaced by Jimmy Nash, trumpet. In December of that year (shortly after the Chit Chat gig) I was drafted in to the U.S. Army and I left Detroit on January 22, 1968. The group stayed intact during my absence of 3 years (yes, I was tricked in to signing on for an extra year but that's another story for a book, perhaps!!). Ralph Todd joined the group as the guitarist in February, 1968. The basic original core of the group stayed intact until July 1969 when Frank Garcia left and the bass chair changed at different intervals. I returned to the group after my Army discharge on January 25, 1971. On my return the personnel included my brothers, Ralph Todd, Tim Allison-trumpet; William Wooten-organ; Warren Phinizee-bass; Lindsay Brooks-vocals; and myself. This personnel was stable until after the New Year.
In February, 1972 my brothers and George Rountree remained as a group (George left in 1970 and returned in January, 1972). My brothers left in the spring of 72. We had some other replacement horns including Robert & Allan Barnes-tenor saxes, and Edward Brooks-trumpet until late fall when we became an organ trio featuring Mike Johnson, guitar, George, and myself in November, '72. We eventually disbanded in March, 1973 after a great ten-year run. On October 11, 2003 Leonard King and the Soul Messengers were inducted into the Motown Museum as "Men Of Motown" as a result of us being being signed to Inferno Records in Detroit which was bought by Motown in April, 1968.
At the present time only three of the original core members are still active in music. George Rountree is still the music director for the Four Tops. Adelphia Hill retired from the U.S. Air Force Band but still plays. Greg returned to playing after retiring from the Ford Motor Company in 2008. . I've been touring the world with saxophonist James Carter in addition to performing with Oopapada featuring Robert Tye-guitar, and Chris Codish-organ; and also as a member of The Southpaw Isle Steelband.
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