Ron English

Ron English


Roots wide and deep in blues, Broadway, bebop, avant-garde, funk, Motown and gospel. Perhaps best known for his association with the Lyman Woodard Organization and Detroit Contemporary 5


JAZZ GUITARIST RON ENGLISH has enjoyed a long and varied music career, widely and deeply rooted in blues, Broadway, bebop, avant-garde, funk, Motown and gospel. He has toured backing the Four Tops, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, and the Supremes’ Mary Wilson, and recorded with Gladys Knight and the Pips. He made much of his living for a while in the pit orchestras for the Fisher Theater and others, backing Broadway musicals and pop acts. He also played on the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s 1986 recording of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess Suite.
Ron led his own jazz groups in greater Detroit, starting when his quartet played every Thursday night at Cobb’s Corner in the late 70s. Ron’s groups opened concerts for Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, the Jazz Crusaders and others, and appeared frequently in Detroit’s Labor Day jazz festival at Hart Plaza. His 1988 LP From Now to Then was drawn from his live concerts at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Ron was Minister of Music at Rosedale Park Baptist Church from 1992 to 2000, and continues on staff. His Psalm150 Ensemble CD Devotions was released for 2008, and he was voted Outstanding Gospel/Christian Musician in the Detroit Music Awards.
Ron participated in the artistic self-determination efforts of the 70s with the Tribe and Strata organizations. Strata produced concerts and records including CJQ’s Locations and Lyman Woodard’s Saturday Night Special, on which Ron was featured. Ron’s own Strata production from that era, Fishfeet, was released for the first time last year by the P-Vine label in Japan.
He is currently developing new material that brings together his sacred and secular approaches to be recorded for a 2010 release. Ron’s jazz groups continue to play for clubs, concerts and festivals, and his Psalm 150 Ensemble ministers from time to time at Rosedale Park Baptist Church and others, including historic Fort Street Presbyterian.
Ron also is a member of Vincent York’s Jazzistry, a jazz history lecture-concert presentation for schools and community groups, since about 1996, and M.L. Liebler’s Magic Poetry Band since 2005. Ron teaches guitar, jazz theory and ensemble classes in the Continuing Education program of Marygrove College. He previously taught in Jazz Studies programs at Oakland University and Michigan State University.

Ron got started playing standards for dances and receptions around his native Lansing, Michigan, where his father was a well known guitar teacher, then graduated to a sort of roadhouse jazz and blues mix, in the bands of drummer Bud Spangler and Jackson tenor man Benny Poole, and with various organists, including his long time employer and collaborator Lyman Woodard. Along the way, for his friends Bob Baldori and the Woolies, Ron contributed the guitar solo on a classic rock “nugget,” the Woolies’ 1967 cover of Bo Diddly’s Who Do You love. He joined the Detroit Contemporary 5, led by trumpeter Charles Moore, in the mid-60s. Its first edition also included drummer Danny Spencer, bassist John Dana and saxophonist Larry Nozero. The DC5 was the house band of the Artists Workshop Society, an arts collective spearheaded by legendary poet and activist John Sinclair. In the later 60s, Ron formed the Weird Dude Employment Agency, a trio with John Dana and Bud Spangler. From the 70s into the 90s, Ron toured and recorded with Michigan jazz artists Lyman Woodard, Wendell Harrison, Kenny Cox, the Jimmy Wilkins Orchestra, the Austin-Moro Big Band, and Eddie Russ, with whom he toured Europe.


Tribe and Strata produced concerts and records of Contemporary Jazz Quartet
(Atlantic - 1973)
Lyman Woodard’s Saturday Night Special (Strata 1975)
(Detroit Radio Company 2007)
Fishfeet (Strata/P-Vine - Japan 2009)

Set List

One hour of intense original and eclectic jazz