Herb Ellis: Detour Ahead
Herb Ellis (guitar)
Roll Call (Justice 1001-2)
Herb Ellis (guitar),
Johnny Frigo (violin), Mel Rhyne (Hammond B-3), Jake Hannah (drums).
Composed by Herb Ellis & Johnny Frigo.
Recorded: Houston, TX, 1991
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
This excellent session reunited guitarist Herb Ellis with Johnny Frigo, the latter on violin as opposed to bass, which he played with Ellis and pianist Lou Carter in the popular Soft Winds trio from 1946-1950. Despite his obvious talent as a violinist, Frigo was instead a studio bassist for many years, meaning his playing here with Ellis came as a revelation to most. Add the neglected, top-notch organist Mel Rhyne, whose claim to fame had been several recordings long ago with Wes Montgomery, and the end result is a surprisingly effective and stimulating chemistry.
The well-known "Detour Ahead" was co-written by Ellis and Frigo back in the Soft Winds period, and was thus a natural choice for this date. A loping, unhurried rhythm is maintained as Ellis plays the melody in his Charlie Christian-influenced style, while Rhyne provides gliding and soothing bass-pedal support. Frigo follows with a more embellished exposition of the theme, displaying a captivating swing style somewhere between Grappelli and Stuff Smith – no small achievement! Ellis responds with a blues-tinged improvisation that exudes the satisfyingly logical deliberation and slow burn that is also characteristic of fellow guitarist Kenny Burrell. Frigo reenters with yet a different approach, his violin now singing out with a more gypsy-like flair that includes dissonant overtones, before delicately reprising the melody for the final time.
Reviewer: Scott Albin