Madison jazz legend and radio host dies after battle with cancer
MADISON, Wis. — From 2-5 p.m. on WORT FM,every Wednesday, jazz music listeners could hear Gary Alderman’s voice hosting his Journeys Into Jazz show.
Alderman introduced his shows with a signature “Welcome to Journeys Into Jazz. I’m Gary Alderman, and we’re here every Wednesday from 2 o’ clock until 5.”
Alderman signed off from his show for the last time in May. He died Sunday at age 76 after a battle with a rare form of cancer known as mantel cell lymphoma.
Alderman earned a Ph.D. in microbiology from University of Wisconsin, Madison. He worked professionally in that field for 10 years, before switching over to become a collector, dealer, and DJ of jazz music.
Alderman worked as a volunteer at WORT FM around 1982. In 1984, he took over as a show host.
“He’s been hosting a weekly show ever since then,” said Sybil Augustine, Alderman’s supervisor and WORT FM music director.
Every Wednesday afternoon, Alderman would create a playlist with an emphasis on music performed on the Hammond B3 Organ. He was known to playfully quiz his audience, drawing from his extensive knowledge of jazz music.
Augustine could tell Alderman loved music because every time they spoke about music, “he would always say to me, ‘But does it swing?'”
Alderman’s son, David Alderman, said in 2003, Alderman received the “Jazz Ambassador Award” at the Jazz @ 5 downtown Madison concert series for his dedication to the local promotion of jazz. In 2008, he was selected as the “Jazz Personality of the Year by mayoral proclamation.
Alderman’s passion for jazz was intense, Augustine said, remembering seeing his jazz collection for the first time.
“He’s been collecting jazz for the last 50 years,” Augustine said. “It was a valuable collection, in the millions of dollars.”
Alderman’s family is working to sell his collection of music.
David Alderman said in a statement, “My dad’s energy was infectious. His passion and knowledge of all things jazz was unmatched and will be deeply missed.”
Alderman is survived by his wife of 51 years, Debby Alderman; his son, David Alderman; his daughter, Julie Bartell and her husband Chad Bartell; and his grandsons Nolan Bartell, 11, and Sawyer Bartell, 9.
Alderman’s family is planning a public party to honor his life for some time in September at the Brink Lounge. Details will be published on the Brink Lounge’s website.
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