After returning from a multi-week vacation, I learned that Bill Finegan died on June 4. I've been finishing an article for The Journal of the Society for American Music on his arrangements of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F, and had just emailed his son Jamie who told me that he had been in the hospital. He passed away only a few days later.
I became interested in Finegan's work when touring (briefly) with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in 1997 as the second alto saxophonist. His stuff was by far the most engaging music in the book. It was a thrill to play "Wagon Wheels" and "Pussy Willow," to fit into these rich textures and play such striking lines—especially for the second alto. While we were in Chicago I found some Sauter-Finegan Orchestra albums at Jazz Record Mart. I wasn't disappointed when I finally got home and was able to play them.
Bill Finegan's passing is a major loss. He was a brilliant artist.