The clarinetist and saxophonist Jimmy Dudley proves there were good horn players coming out of Hattiesburg, MS, long before George Cartwright. Dudley's main claim to fame on the historic jazz scene was to have been one of the members of the great McKinney's Cotton Pickers band, participating in recording sessions in the late '20s and early '30s. But in addition, fans of live music in the Milwaukee area may have been more than familiar with this horn player following lengthy stretches at local clubs from the '30s through the '50s. Dudley, in fact, never left Milwaukee, and that city by the Great Lakes could probably put more of a claim on his talents then any town down in the Delta.
Dudley's music career began at 13, on violin, and bandleader Bert Bailey gets the credit for prompting the switch to reeds. Early gigging years were also spent in Milwaukee, as well as some time in Detroit, with leaders such as Charlie Creath and Eli Rice. Fellow musician Billy Minor arranged the audition that led to several years with McKinney's Cotton Pickers, allowing a chance to rub shoulders with the likes of Coleman Hawkins. From 1934 Dudley concentrated on leading his own group, preferring extended local club jobs and broadcasts to touring. He worked as a sideman again with Bernie Young in 1942, and after the Second World War was associated with Milwaukee venues such as the Elbow Room and Thelma's Back Door. His death in the early '70s followed a long illness.