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Esther Phillips: For All We Know

Album Notes

This 1976 Kudu date under Esther Phillips' name is notable for two major reasons, and both of them are Joe Beck. While Creed Taylor produced the date, all of the sets arrangements were done by Beck, who wove an entire band's sound around the smoking, soulful grooves of his guitar. His playing is the other reason this set is so memorable: Beck is at his most inspired and fluidly funky; he is present everywhere in the mix but nonetheless crafts the strengths of the ensemble around Phillips' unusual voice. Other players include the Brecker Brothers, Don Grolnick, Fred Wesley, Will Lee, Bobby Lyle, Steve Khan, and many others. The band winds around Phillips, setting her up as "Soul Sister Number One," hitting the funky grooves and elongating her clipped trademark delivery. Highlights include the title track -- one of the greatest disco tunes never played in a disco -- her up-tempo rave-up of "Unforgettable," with killer breaks by Beck and Michael Brecker, the dirtiest, funkiest version ever of Jackie DeShannon's "Pure Natural Love," and a Latin-tinged read of "Goin' Out of My Head." ~ Thom Jurek


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