Though Duster Bennett recorded just four albums before his death in 1976, his entire career was spent in front of a microphone, either recording home demos for his own reference or going into the studio with various friends and admirers. The fruits of these sessions would then be taken home and added to a massive pile of unlabelled, undated tapes that his widow, Stella Bennett, finally turned over to the Indigo label in 1994. Over the next seven years, six full albums would be created from this treasure trove, between them documenting Bennett's creativity at every stage of its development. The first in the series, Jumpin' at Shadows, admits without apology to the uncertainty of its contents. Certainly some songs date from Bennett's years of greatest popularity, the late '60s when he was signed to the so-influential Blue Horizon label -- among the highlights is a lovely solo rendition of the title track, a song otherwise familiar from the electrifying rendition cut with Peter Green in 1968. Another song, "Morning Star," would develop into the 1969 single "If You Could Hang Your Washing Like You Could Hang Your Lines." Other material can be traced to the early to mid-'70s, as Bennett concentrated more on live work than the studio. What is not in doubt is the sheer joy with which Bennett approached the blues. Whether accompanying himself on harp and guitar, or blasting with a band of super-sessionman friends, there is an honesty and a delight that words cannot express. As Stella's own contributions to the liner notes point out, "Duster was what he sang and played. His music says all there was to say about him -- I'm so happy it's still saying it."
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson