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Jazz Moods - Hot

Esther Phillips

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Album Review

Esther Phillips' volume in Legacy's Jazz Moods series is righteously subtitled as "Hot." The 11 tracks here are taken from her three Kudu recordings in the early to mid-'70s — From a Whisper to a Scream, What a Diff'rence a Day Makes, and Black-Eyed Blues. Her chart-smashing cover of Gil Scott-Heron's "Home Is Where the Hatred Is" is here, as is her read of Eddie Floyd's "'Til My Back Ain't Got No Bone." Her funky take of "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes" is perhaps the most radical version of the song ever cut, and her reggae-drenched presentation of Bill Withers' "Use Me" is second only to the original. Likewise, her twist on "I Can Stand a Little Rain" adds depth and dimension to the tune, stretching it to the bluesy side of R&B. The late-night blues grind of her take on Ellington's "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good" takes a jazz standard and shape-shifts it into a modern-day lounge classic. In other words, this little compilation from a very short period in Phillips' career is solid, provocative, and — for the money — indispensable.

Biography

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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Jazz Moods - Hot, Esther Phillips
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