Roy Milton

Specialty Profiles: Roy Milton

by Robert R. Calder

7 December 2006


Milton was an Oklahoman singing drummer whom Art Rupe, founder of the small independent Specialty label, signed in the mid-1940s to record much of the music he performed in barroom gigs for an African-American clientele. The band features two saxophones and rhythm. Influences included the bluesier Kansas City music recorded by Count Basie, Jay McShann, Pete Johnson, and Big Joe Turner. “T-Town Twist” is the one instrumental item on the set, with Johnny Rodgers on guitar. The hornmen get to solo quite a bit, the highly accomplished already-veteran Benny Waters playing roaring tenor, and the regular musical star, the amazing Camille Howard, apparently harmonically sophisticated, given the almost unique sureness of runs she played in terrific boogie style. There’s something in Milton’s music of the territory big bands, who recorded only fitfully, and he managed a full sound for such a small group, with plenty solos by gifted musicians commonly not so widely known (an exception being Benny Waters, whose tenor playing wasn’t the least raucous of saxophone solos by the various hands here). Each set I’ve seen in this series has an identical sampler disc of Specialty R&B. This means you get the same track on the Milton CD and on the pseudo-bonus disc. A little shabby?

Specialty Profiles: Roy Milton



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