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Randy Johnston: Detour Ahead

Guitarist Randy Johnston has a knack for surrounding himself with the right people, evidenced by the personnel on these organ-trio-based tracks, featuring B-3 whiz Joey DeFrancesco and tenormen David “Fathead” Newman and Houston Person, who also produced the project. While the music throughout this disc has plenty of variety, essentially there are two overall vibes: grooving and sweet. “Blues for Edward G” (with Newman and Person), “Two Step Snake” (with Newman) and “Dearly Beloved” fit into the former category, with the first two tunes representing the bluesy side of the musical equation and providing excellent vehicles for Johnston’s overall instrumental command, which ranges from funky to sleek and sophisticated. The program’s two ballads-“A House Is Not a Home” and “Detour Ahead,” both with DeFrancesco and drummer Byron Landham-are subdued trio performances that give Johnson ample opportunities to play melodically and spin long, gracefully shaped lines.

Above all, when Johnson plays, he leaves you with the feeling that he’s not just connecting the dots, but also really playing, listening and taking chances. It all adds up to another fine performance from a guitarist who’s going to be around for a long time.

Originally Published