Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Originally released in 1974, Performance is the fourth of seven albums that vocalist Esther Phillips recorded for Kudu, an offshoot of Creed Taylor's CTI label. Arranged and conducted by Pee Wee Ellis with assistance from Eugene McDaniels and Taylor, the session assembles a celebrated choice of soul, fusion, and mainstream jazz musicians including, Bob James, Richard Tee, Hubert Laws, Bernard Purdie, Pepper Adams, and Michael Brecker. Not a live album – as you might think from the title – but a tight batch of tunes that shows the full funk and soul talents of the legendary Esther Phillips. The album's got a nicely dark undercurrent at times. Backings are penned by Pee Wee Ellis and Gary King – and players include Bob James and Richard Tee on keyboards, Hubert Laws on flute, and Bernard Purdie and Steve Gadd on drums – the latter of whom provides a sublime beat on the album's standout funky number "Disposable Society" – one of those great little groovers that never did anything for Esther at the time of its release, but which has really gotten rediscovered in recent years. Highlights among the eight songs include Dr. John's "Such a Night," the gospel-inspired "Living Alone (We're Going to Make It)," Isaac Hayes and David Porter's "Can't Trust Your Neighbor with Your Baby," "Doing Our Thing," "Living Alone", and "I Feel The Same".  While Performance has been remastered and retains the original album art, there are no bonus tracks.

Album Personnel: Esther Phillips (vocals); Charlie Brown (guitar); Manny Vardi (violin, viola); Paul Gershmann, Charles Libove, David Nadien, Matthew Raimondi, Max Ellen, Emanuel Green (violin); Al Brown, Harold Coletta (viola); Charles McCracken , George Ricci (cello); Hubert Laws (flute); Jerry Dodgion (alto saxophone); Pepper Adams (baritone saxophone); John Gatchell, Jon Faddis, Marvin Stamm (trumpet, flugelhorn); Urbie Green (trombone); Richard Wyands (piano); Richard Tee, Bob James (keyboards); Bernard Purdie (drums); Ralph MacDonald (percussion); Pee Wee Ellis (chimes). Photographer: William Cadge.

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