Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Audrey H. meets the world

Billie Holiday, Detour Ahead.

"Detour Ahead" is one of Holiday's overlooked masterpieces, in part because it is a weird footnote in her career--it was one of four tracks she recorded for the Aladdin label (which mainly issued R&B records), with backing by Tiny Grimes' Sextet, which were rarely anthologized.

Holiday's singing on "Detour" is nonpareil, as she takes the at-times goofy driving metaphors of the lyric and infuses them with slow grace, melancholy and experience. "The further you travel, the harder to unravel," she sings, with the sound of someone already deeply snared in the web.

"Detour" was written by the "Soft Winds" jazz trio of violinist Johnny Frigo, guitarist Herb Ellis and pianist Lou Carter. Holiday recorded it on April 29, 1951 in New York, and it was released as Aladdin 3094 as the B-side of "Be Fair to Me." (The other two Aladdin sides were "Rocky Mountain Blues" and "Blue Turning Grey Over You.") With Grimes on guitar, Heywood Henry (baritone sax) and Bobby Tucker (p). You can find it on the hodgepodge Billie's Blues or the more extensive Ultimate Collection.

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