Six of the seven numbers on this brief but otherwise impressive album were written by singer Bess Daniels who came late to performing but reveals a stronger grasp of Jazz’s subtle nuances than many who’ve been scuffling in the trenches for years. Daniels is what one would call a natural, as she’s had little or no formal training as a singer but has apparently been blessed with remarkable timing, flawless diction and above all, a warm and sensuous voice that never wanders off–key. If there’s a fly in this particular ointment (aside from the album’s woefully short 26:03 playing time), it is that pianist Eddie Buster, one of two musicians listed on the tray card, is recorded far too prominently, all but engulfing Daniels’ vocals and making it sound as though the album were his, not hers. If Daniels is aware of or troubled by the imbalance it’s never apparent in her smooth, worry–free vocals, each of which is a model of earnest self–control. She’s also a bright and versatile writer who doubles as composer / lyricist on everything but Gordon Parks’ “Don’t Misunderstand.” She can swing, as on “My Baby Is Home Again” or “South Carolina Pines,” and make a tender lyric captivating, as on “Mom, Take Your Bow,” written for her mother, Ruby Bentley. Returning for a moment to Daniels’ accompanists, even though Buster and bassist Morris Trent are the only musicians named, there’s further support from a number of synthesized sources, fleshing out and adding color to the core group. Even though Daniels is doing no more than testing the water with this album, she appears to be a powerful swimmer who is capable of outdistancing more than a few of her better–known contemporaries.
Contact: Bentley Enterprises, P.O. Box 310, State Park, SC 29147.