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On July 7,1992, Jack Maheu learned that his longtime partner, Will Alger, had died in his sleep that morning.
Later, when the “Salt City Six Plays the ‘The Classics’” was re-released, Jack dedicated it to “Uncle Will Alger” with these words:
“Will and I wanted pretty much wanted the same things that music could give: a swinging band, good tunes to play, honesty in interpretation (a minimum of B. S.), a dollop of showmanship, and the exhilaration and excitement that good ensemble dixieland jazz could give to the listeners.
“Also, l wish to add that in my opinion Will was on of the all-time great ensemble players who could lift a band to a degree greater than the sum of its parts no matter how good, or not so good, the other players were.
“lt is with melancholy sadness and a sense of being poorer knowing that Will no longer will be around to give us that special Alger touch either by his singing (oh, yes, he could sing, too), his humor (“...and when I first met her she was sitting on the Brooklyn Bridge... dangling her feet in the water. She was a tall girl”), or, of course, his trombone, the bane of other trombone players who may have challenged Will in a cutting session. lf perchance Will was having any trouble staying well ahead in the cutting contest he could always count on his body English to dispatch even greater flourishes of notes to the rafters humbling even the more formidable of contenders.
“At the conclusion of these encounters Will would often smite his forehead with his plunger mute suctioning it in place and looking like a unicorn with a rubber stump while he baletully perused the audience which was by now, as they say, rolling in the aisles. Will was quite a trip, and like most great artists, one of a kind. He will be sadly missed by his many friends and fans whose lives he enriched and brightened.”
Jack Maheu died in Ithaca, N. Y. on August 27, 2013. He was 83 years old.