Chapter 10 Milwaukee Mainstream

Chapter 10

Milwaukee Mainstream


Dick Ruedebusch cut several records during the height of his career in Wisconsin, between 1961 and 1965.  They are Meet Mr. Trumpet, Mr. Trumpet Remembers the Greats, Mr. Trumpet (all of Jubilee Records), and Happy Horn (Ascot).   The credits on these albums are sketchy, but clearly the Underprivileged Five is present on almost all of the Jubilee cuts.  (Meet Mr. Trumpet is a live recording from a concert at what was then known as Wisconsin State University at Whitewater.)  In 1993, a recording was released of rather low fidelity recordings of various performances from 1951 (a jam in Madison) up until the end of his career.  Over the last few years I have found old copies of these records in second-hand stores in Wisconsin.  I obtained the 1993 album (on cassette tape) from the Mayville Historical Society.

In September 2019, someone posted online some excellent footage of Ruedebusch playing features with Woody Herman’s band of two great old standards, “The Very Thought of You” and “I Can’t Get Started.”  These performances, from Vienna, Austria, show Ruedebusch’s great command of the instrument and ability to play in this style, which, as I suggested in Wisconsin Riffs, was out of line stylistically with what the other soloists in the band were playing at this time.


Chuck Hedges is on the Ruedebusch records mentioned above.

He also was recorded extensively during the latter part of his career.  When I asked him in 2010 (just two weeks before his death), “if you were to name a handful of recordings that you’ve done that define who you are musically, or that you’re proud of, or that were meaningful to you, what ones would you list?”

He immediately answered, “None.”  But he went on, “You know, really, there are some; like No Greater Love (Arbors Jazz, 1992) was an honor and an experience, just working with [legendary bassist Bob] Haggart.  The greatest compliment I ever got from anybody of that era was the year after we did the recording, we were at the LA Festival, the Sweet and Hot Festival, and Haggart came up to me and said, ‘You know, that was a pretty good recording we made.’  And man, I was just walking on a cloud.  Because I was really intimidated during that recording.  Here’s a guy who’s done it all, who grew with the music, not only his bass playing, but his concepts, and his ability to write, and here I was making a recording with him.”   Hedges also said, “(Swingtet) Live at Andy’s (Delmark, 1994) is one of the better ones we did, because it was well recorded, at Andy’s, and we took two Mondays to do it.”

Hedges also expressed some satisfaction with Chicago drummer Barrett Deems’s Deemus (Delmark, 1978; reissued 1997), on which he is the only horn.  He also had affection for his “fiddle album,” Sweet and Lovely (PKO Records, 2007) recorded with the Milwaukee Connection band and strings.  Wisconsin fans will be interested in the other 2007 PKO release that featured just the Milwaukee Connection with Hedges, Just for You.

As noted in the Chapter 2 discography, a recording on which Hedges played with Wild Bill Davison is Wild Bill Davison In Europe, recorded in 1981, released in 2009 on Jazzology.


I recently found a copy of the Mil Combo’s 1955 Capitol release online.  I have never seen a copy for sale in Wisconsin.  I did, however, recently purchase in Madison a copy of the Sig Millonzi Trio’s Three Times Over with Lee Burrows and Jack Carr.


George Welland plays bass on the above mentioned Chuck Hedges albums Sweet and Lovely and Just for You.


Steve Lewandowski has recorded, among other items, an album put together during 2008-2009 with such Milwaukee musicians as Chuck Hedges, Bob Maynard, George Welland, Jeff Pietrangelo and his wife Lynn Lewandowski, Familiar Melodies.  See also the band Opus, in Chapter 12, and the Kaye Berigan entry in Chapter 15.