Jack Maheu was born in Troy, NY in 1930 and spent his formative years in Plattsburgh, NY. After graduation from Plattsburgh High School in 1947, he studied commercial art for two years at the Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, NY, then studied music for two years, majoring in clarinet at Syracuse University.
Jack’s first musical experience was with a local Plattsburgh group, the Jazz Modernaires. In 1951, he became a founding member of the well-known Dixieland group, the Salt City Five. With this group, he won the competition on the Arthur Godfrey Show on TV. The group was booked into Child’s Paramount until March of ’53.
During the early ’50s, Jack and the band recorded two albums for Jubilee Records. Then in 1957, he began work with the Dukes of Dixieland in Las Vegas. After recording eight albums with the Dukes, he left in 1959 to form his own band at the Prevue Lounge in Chicago. During the ’60s, he recorded and toured with Muggsy Spanier, the Bob Scobey Band, Jimmy McPartland, Art Hodes, George Brunis, Pee Wee Russell, Vic Dickenson, George Wettling, Bud Freeman, and others. In 1961, he re-formed the Salt City Six as co-leader with Will Alger. Wild Bill Davison joined this group for a one-year tour in 1962. By 1968, the group had become the house band at a club Jack owned, the Gallery, in Burlington, Vermont.
The early ’70s saw a move to Rochester, NY and the re-formation of the Salt City Six with Wild Bill, Marty Grosz, John Ulrich, George Brunis, and George Zack. This band toured and recorded until 1978, when they disbanded and Jack formed a new group—Helium—with Barry Kiener, Dan D’Imperio, and Steve Alcott.
Beginning in 1979, Jack joined the house band at Eddie Condon’s Jazz club in New York, and recorded Condon’s Hot Lunch with Pee Wee Erwin in 1980. After the club closed in 1985, he stayed in New York to work and record with Grosz, Dick Wellstood, Mark Shane, and Howard Alden.
1988 saw a move to Marco Island, FL to help form the Paradise Jazz Band, with which he toured and recorded. In 1989, this group played an impromptu jam session for the newly liberated East Germans coming through the demolished Berlin Wall.
In 1990, Jack moved to New Orleans, where he lives today. He toured for six months with Al Hirt, played engagements at the Fairmont Hotel, various Bourbon Street clubs, and Mississippi riverboats. He formed the Fire In The Pet Shop Callithumpian Jazz Band, which won First Place three years in a row in the New Orleans French Quarter Jazz Festival Battle of the Bands.
Jack remained active in jazz in New Orleans until 2006 when health problems forced his retirement.