EARLY HITS 1949-1954 (2CD Set)
This set showcases the beginnings of Esther Phillips when she was a protégée of Johnnie Otis, recording for Savoy and Federal and blasting out the blues on record with Johnny's orchestra, Mel Walker and even The Robins on Double Crossing Blues and Lover's Lane Boogie. Hard to believe, but Esther was just 14 when she made those records in 1949 and by the time she was fifteen she'd hit the top ten with songs like Deceivin' Blues, Wedding Boogie and Far Away Blues, played the Apollo and was a regular on the chitlin circuit sharing the stage with great musicians like guitarist Pete Lewis, pianist Devonia Williams and sax players Ben Webster, Preston Love and Big Jay McNeely.
As you'll hear she was a tireless performer; at home on slow blues and ballads, show songs and bopping rockers as well as hot big band numbers. This terrific two CD set chronicles her vibrant career before she settled down to become the jazz diva and soul queen of her later years and shows how she moved away from the Dinah Washington influence, developing her own well rounded style. Not only do you get to hear Esther's terrific vocals, but, as a bonus, this collection also demonstrates just how Johnny Otis and his Orchestra cranked out some of the best West Coast blues of the decade.
Review Date: January 2010