New York City-based neo-soul singer Alan Leatherman takes a “Detour” for some straight-ahead jazz. Backed by the best (McCoy Tyner’s bassist Gerald Cannon, the late Shirley Horn’s longtime drummer Steve Williams, and Manhattan mainstay pianist Rick Germanson), Leatherman’s self-produced gem is gorgeous.
Leatherman doesn’t over-sing what could have been a detour to boredom. Instead, his lyrics come alive with much feeling in Cole Porter (“You’d Be So Nice To Come To”), Lerner & Lowe (“I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face” from My Fair Lady) and Billy Strayhorn (“Lush Life”).
In “Parker’s Mood,” he vocally recreates a Charlie Parker sax solo note-for-note using the lyrics written by King Pleasure. Totally believable on Duke Ellington’s “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues,” he slip-slides through “This Is Always” like an experienced bebop practitioner. These two were the jewels of the set but the majority of his eleven tracks retain his rich feeling. In an age where melisma substitutes for talent on vocal TV shows, Leatherman proves you don’t have sing the word “love” with any more than one syllable.
– Mike Greenblatt