In the middle 70s, Esther Phillips, a fine jazz-tinged blues/R&B singer (who, while a still teen, sang with the Johnny Otis Show as Little Esther) was ready for something of a career makeover. She and producer Creed Taylor set to make an album of songs that would embrace the emerging disco sound while still retaining her trademarked soulful wail ‘n’ grit. Phillips, Taylor and an ace crew of funk and jazz players took on the Dinah Washington hit "What A Diff’rence A Day Makes" and scored a hit - Phillips’ deep, urban soul-diva approach added an earthy, got-to-be-REAL dimension and Joe Beck’s fluid guitar breaks rode the punchy dance-floor modified-funk rhythms, as opposed to the dance rhythms "driving" - and constraining - them. The rest of the album pretty much follows that formula, adding some jazz-accented sax soloing by Michael Brecker and David Sanborn, and there’s a country-flavored take on the 60s mush-pop hit "Turn Around, Look At Me." Not to damn this disc with faint praise, but this album is notable for not only Phillips’ very fine showing (one of the last original classic blues/R&B voices of the 60s & 70s), but it’s a time-capsule example of a time when pop/dance-oriented R&B was genuinely soulful, performed by live musicians AND made the charts. (PLUS: it's digitally remastered with one bonus track.)
Artist / Group Name:Esther Phillips
CD Title:What A Diffrence A Day Makes
Genre:Soul / Funk Jazz
Reissue Original Release:1975
Record Label:CTI / Legacy Recordings
Musicians:Joe Beck, Steve Khan: guitar; Don Grolnick: keyboards; Dave Sanborn, Michael Brecker: saxophone; Will Lee: bass; Chris Parker: drums.