The lazy, loping shuffle associated with bluesman Jimmy Reed was one of many grooves this important Chicago bassist was known for helping to create. Milton Rector could also play blues of a much more aggressive nature, as demonstrated on many fine '60s recordings by harmonica boss Sonny Boy Williamson II. The bass line to the song "Help Me" is one of the most famous in blues, although whether it, or the very similar lick to "Green Onions," was the source seems to be a chicken-and-eggs debate. Like many of the Windy City's players from the prolific recording period of the '50s and '60s, the bassist was an eclectic performer who seemed to have as much interest in genre categories as a gangster has in abiding by the law. The great Chicago pianist Johnnie Johnson has recalled working in the late '40s in the Milton Rector Jazz Band, indicating both a jazz background and an obvious explanation for the swing feeling that is always present in his bass lines. Blues scholars who just can't be satisfied listening to the most famous artists can check Rector out in the company of J.B. Lenoir and Homesick James Williamson in a set of sessions that were apparently cut on the same day in the early '60s for the USA label. It was a case of "United We Delete" as well, since these recordings tend to show their smiling faces in cut-out bins. Other action-packed recording sessions that are also dripping with obscurity were recordings produced by bandleader and man-about-town Al Smith, featuring leaders Morris Pejoe and Arthur "Big Boy" Spires. These recordings were cut in Smith's basement for the United & States outfit, but have remained in reissue circulation, unlike the sides on previously mentioned, patriotically named record label.
Milton Rector Biography
by Eugene Chadbourne