The Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio Brings Legit Soul & Funk on Unrelenting ‘I Told You So” (ALBUM REVIEW)

Many musicians are self-taught. Many can find a second livelihood gigging locally and most stay in that mode throughout their musical pursuits. Few break out to national or international touring status but the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, once seemingly destined to the former, has indeed broken out. I Told You So is their third album, and the second studio effort in their self-dubbed “feel-good music.”

The unit, also referred to as DLO3, will certainly evoke the ‘60s organ jazz stylings of Jimmy Smith and Baby Face Willette; a pinch of the soul strut of Booker T. & The M.G.’s and The Meters; and sprinkles of Motown, Stax, blues, and cosmic Jimi Hendrix-style guitar. It’s looser, louder, and more rock-oriented than the Jimmy Smith, Brother Jack McDuff kind of organ trio material, and to many, it may be more exciting, better geared to live performance and unabashed booty shaking. This writer’s best reference point is the consummate Motown guitarist Dennis Coffey’s trio featuring organist Lyman Woodard of the late ‘60s (See Dennis Coffey – One Night at Morey’s: 1968 {Ominivore} covered on these pages and Hot Coffey in the D {Resonance}). But, while Coffee is the pure epitome of the Detroit sound, DLO3 has a broader reach.

The band features organist Delvon Lamarr, a self-taught virtuosic musician, with perfect pitch who taught himself jazz and has effortlessly been able to play a multitude of instruments. On guitar is Jimmy James who eases through a wide range of styles from Steve Cropper to Hendrix to slinky Grant Green-style jazz and to complete the trio is drummer Grant Schroff.  James has been with Lamarr from the outset while Weiss is the newest member. Since its humble beginnings in May 2015, the trio has issued two Billboard-charting albums and a single; toured nationally and internationally, and performed live at Upstream Music Festival broadcast by KEXP that garnered over 7 million views. Today due, to the efforts of Lamarr’s wife, Amy Novo, who manages the band, they have extended their reach beyond their home base of Seattle to national and international touring. 

 “I was definitely frustrated, playing the same venues over and over again and thinking this is going to be my life – just being a local Seattle cat,” says Lamarr, who recently moved to Austin, Texas. “I had played in a bunch of bands with cats that didn’t get along, cats fighting, and I saw what the bandleader had to deal with to keep people in line. I just wanted to be a side dude and have nothing to do with that.” He elaborates, “I think Amy just got tired of hearing me complain,” Lamarr says with a laugh. “She got tired of me dragging around a B3 (Hammond organ) and driving 100 miles for 50-dollar gigs. She was like, ‘Dude, you start your own band and I’ll take care of all the rest.’ It took me years to do that, but when I did, things turned around.”

The nine tracks on I Told You So will immediately get you shaking as it’s impossible to sit still without at least tapping afoot.  They may just get up and out of that comfortable chair. The funk and swagger are immediate and invigorating on the opener “Hole in One,” already released as a single. “Call Your Mom” and “Girl Face” have more relaxed, smooth, soulful grooves that will keep you swaying. “From the Streets” is a sweet, slow-burner featuring Weiss’s greasy backbeat drumming and James leading the melody. “Fo Sho” ratchets up the tempo with a steady groove as Lamarr displays his mastery of his beloved B3. 

“Aces” begins with the syncopated funk and stands as the clearest evocation of Booker T & the MGs with James engaging in a soaring solo. Wham’s “Careless Whisper,” as the title suggests, brings the boil down to a simmer with Lamarr chording behind James’ clean lines before he leads into the romantic melody. “Right Place, Right Time” is a bubbling sizzler, an exercise in precise and sweaty funk. The closer, “I Don’t Know” is yet a fine example of the trio’s impeccable sense of rhythm and interplay as all three engage in a lively dialogue. 

The unrelenting, intoxicating grooves of The Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio are everything one would want from an organ trio – a pinch of late’60s, some elements of more modern funk, and a riveting, magnetic swagger that won’t let go. 

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One Response

  1. Jim: Thanks for the review but you’re a better writer than one who needs plagiarize from the band’s own bio page.

    Their bio: “The unit, also referred to as DLO3, will certainly evoke the ‘60s organ jazz stylings of Jimmy Smith and Baby Face Willette; a pinch of the soul strut of Booker T. & The M.G.’s and The Meters; and sprinkles of Motown, Stax, blues, and cosmic Jimi Hendrix-style guitar.”

    Your review: “The ingredients of this intoxicating cocktail include a big helping of the 1960s organ jazz stylings of Jimmy Smith and Baby Face Willette; a pinch of the snappy soul strut of Booker T. & The M.G.’s and The Meters; and sprinkles Motown, Stax Records, blues, and cosmic Jimi Hendrix-style guitar.”

    Their bio: “The band features organist Delvon Lamarr, a self-taught virtuosic musician, with perfect pitch who taught himself jazz and has effortlessly been able to play a multitude of instruments. On guitar is Jimmy James who eases through a wide range of styles from Steve Cropper to Hendrix to slinky Grant Green-style jazz and to complete the trio is drummer Grant Schroff. James has been with Lamarr from the outset while Weiss is the newest member. Since its humble beginnings in May 2015, the trio has issued two Billboard-charting albums and a single; toured nationally and internationally, and performed live at Upstream Music Festival broadcast by KEXP that garnered over 7 million views.”

    Your review: “The band features organist Delvon Lamarr, a self-taught virtuosic musician, with perfect pitch who taught himself jazz and has effortlessly been able to play a multitude of instruments. On guitar is the dynamo Jimmy James who eases through Steve Cropper-style chanking guitar, volcanic acid-rock freak-out lead playing, and slinky Grant Green-style jazz. From Reno, Nevada is drummer Dan Weiss (also of the powerhouse soul and funk collective The Sextones). Dan’s smoldering pocket-groove drumming locks in the trio’s explosive chemistry. Since its humble beginnings in May, 2015, the trio has issued two Billboard-charting albums and a 45; toured nationally and internationally, and performed on live at Upstream Music Festival broadcast by KEXP that garnered over 7 million views.”

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