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Detour Ahead

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Album Review

If you're a hard bopper with soul-jazz leanings, it is important to have sidemen who have a similar mentality; that is, musicians who like to swing aggressively but also like to groove — musicians who value chops and virtuosity but realize that feeling and soulfulness are also important. Randy Johnston feels that way; he's a guitar-playing virtuoso who values feeling as well as technique. And thankfully, he has very like-minded support on Detour Ahead, including tenor saxman David "Fathead" Newman, organist Joey DeFrancesco, and Philadelphia drummer Byron Landham. All of these improvisers have both hard bop and soul-jazz credentials, as does tenor saxophonist Houston Person (who produced the album). Person is featured on the opener, "Blues for Edward G.," a groove-oriented item that Johnston wrote in memory of the late Edward G. Robinson (one of the finest actors of the 20th century). But Person isn't featured on any of the other tracks; on Detour Ahead, the tenor veteran does a lot more producing than playing. Person's admirers will no doubt wish that he was featured more prominently, but Newman is also a major saxophone heavyweight — and Johnston employs him on four of the CD's eight selections (including Johnston's Grant Green-ish "The Triangle Pose," the above-mentioned "Blues for Edward G.," and an interesting version of Burt Bacharach's "They Long to Be Close to You"). Johnston also turns his attention to Bacharach's "A House Is Not a Home," and it's nice to see the guitarist paying this much attention to the Bacharach/Hal David songbook — a lot of hard boppers suffer from the delusion that worthwhile popular music ended with Tin Pan Alley pop and, unlike Johnston, ignore Bacharach's contributions. Detour Ahead is a solid album that Johnston should be proud to have in his catalog.

Biography

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

An expressive, often funky hard bopper who is quite comfortable in soul-jazz settings, Randy Johnston has evolved into one of the finest straight-ahead jazz guitarists of the Baby Boomer generation. Johnston has never been an introverted sort of player; he is an aggressive, gritty, hard-swinging musician who brings a great deal of blues feeling to his work. The late Grant Green is Johnston's most obvious influence, and other guitarists who have had an impact on his playing include, among others,...
Full bio
Detour Ahead, Randy Johnston
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  • 7,92 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Hard Bop
  • Released: 15 April 2001

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