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Esther Phillips Sings

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Album Review

Though it lacked a big hit (like 1965's And I Love Him!), Esther Phillips Sings featured a better set of songs and better charts for her to sing in front of. With the opener "It's All Right With Me" leading the way, Oliver Nelson's seven arrangements bring out the best in Phillips, giving her plenty of space with light instrumentation but filling any available gaps with his strong, brassy orchestra. "A Taste of Honey" and "Just Say Goodbye" are also very successful, leaving the big-band era for a groovier period of swinging traditional pop. There are a few clunkers, mostly the fault of Ray Ellis' overly commercial arrangements on "The Shadow of Your Smile" and "You Can't Go Home Again," but everywhere else Esther Phillips bridges the world of R&B and jazzy pop with finesse and an easy charm.


Born: 23 December 1935 in Galveston, TX

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Esther Phillips was perhaps too versatile for her own good, at least commercially speaking; while she was adept at singing blues, early R&B, gritty soul, jazz, straight-up pop, disco, and even country, her record companies often lacked a clear idea of how to market her, which prevented her from reaching as wide an audience as she otherwise might have. An acquired taste for some, Phillips' voice had an idiosyncratic, nasal quality that often earned comparisons to Nina Simone, although she herself...
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Esther Phillips Sings, Esther Phillips
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