One of the few no nonsense guitarists of the current set following in the footsteps of Tal Farlow, Chuck Wayne, Johnny Smith, and other mainstream legends, Randy Johnston has built a solid catalog with varied and disparate albums for such labels as Muse, HighNote and J Curve. He also counts among his supporters and employers Houston Person and Joey DeFrancesco. It is the former who produced Detour Ahead, which also happens to feature the latter.
Recorded in 1998, this date has inexplicably languished in the vaults for a few years. As it turns out, the trio of Johnston, De Francesco, and drummer Byron Landham is a potent one and an extra guest is provided with the inclusion of David “Fathead” Newman. Two Johnson originals (the straight 12 bar romp “Blues For Edward G.” and the waltz “The Triangle Pose”) are balanced by a well-groomed collection of standards. Off the beaten path, Burt Bacharach’s “A House Is Not a Home” is a lovely ballad feature for Johnson, whose burnished tone takes on azure hues. Another Bacharach ‘70s ditty, “They Long To Be Close To You,” even manages to shake off its dated facade while strutting to a groovy swagger.
So be it the funk of “Two Step Snake” or the bebop of “The End of a Love Affair,” Johnson and crew engage in the kind of good natured jamming that is part and parcel of the jazz legacy and a sound (captured expertly by Rudy Van Gelder) that will never go out of style.
Track Listing: Blues For Edward G., The Triangle Pose, A House Is Not a Home, The End of a Love Affair, They Long To Be Close To You, Two Step Snake, Detour Ahead, Dearly Beloved
Personnel: Randy Johnston (guitar), David 'Fathead' Newman (tenor saxophone), Houston Person (tenor saxophone on track 1 only), Joey DeFrancesco (organ), Byron Landham (drums)