A graduate of De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis, Matt joined us in the fall of 2011. As a Music Education major from Webster University, he plays flute, saxophone and clarinet. He's a director in the Festus School District.
In addition to the Gateway City Big Band, Matt currently plays with the St. Louis Wind Symphony and funk/soul group Naked Rock Fight. Matt also enjoys composing original music and watching Cardinals baseball.
Jerry grew up in South St. Louis and graduated from Southwest High School. He played a “C” melody saxophone in grade school. "A ‘C’ melody saxophone (which is pretty rare today) was the only one available in grade school because you could read violin music", Jerry explained. After a couple of years, he switched to the Eb alto sax, which is his primary instrument today.
Jerry was just one member of a very musical family. His mother played piano and his father played guitar. He had uncles who played mandolin, guitar and cornet, and a grandfather who played violin and tuba. "They were country musicians in southeast Missouri, playing hoedowns, as they used to call them", added Jerry. "My mother had a great ear and could pick up the melody of any tune right away. She used to play for silent movies in East Prairie, Missouri as a young girl." At the age of thirteen Jerry started playing with dance bands around St. Louis. He learned to play other reed instruments as the need arose – clarinet, tenor sax, soprano sax, baritone (bari) sax and bass clarinet.
Over the years Jerry has performed with many local band leaders including Gary Dammer and Russ David, as well as playing engagements with the 5th Dimension, Tommy Dorsey Band, Buddy Morrow Band and Jan Garber Orchestra. He was a member of the 571st Air Force Band (Air National Guard) for 32 years, retiring in 1998 as the unit’s Superintendent. He played the lead alto book for 30 of those 32 years.
Jerry’s non-musical career included being a Tech Illustrator of maintenance manuals at McDonnell Douglas in 1958. He went to civilian flight school in 1966, planning to be a commercial airline pilot. When that didn’t work out he went to Mosby Publishing where he was Director of Manufacturing when he left after nearly thirty years. He still enjoys flying, especially with his son whom he taught to fly. He flies heath care missions for the needy for the Wings of Hope. Jerry and wife, Ann, also have a daughter and four grandchildren.
Jerry had heard about the Gateway City Big Band over the years but didn’t realize a current band member was working with him at Mosby in the mid-90s. Karen Sharp (trombone/vocals) and Jerry started swapping stories about their musical backgrounds and Karen passed his name on to the sax section leader at that time, Jim Knox. In 1996, Jerry started coming to rehearsals and substituting for full-time members, eventually joining the band full time when Will Dyer retired.
"I have enjoyed it thoroughly. It’s something that came along at the perfect time in my life. My concern was what playing opportunities I would have when I retired from the Guard Band."
In 1999 as Jim Knox was planning his retirement from Gateway, he asked Jerry to be the saxophone section leader. In July of 2002, Jerry became president of the band and in February of 2008, Jerry retired as President and became Treasurer and later Booker for the band.
Jerry would like to see the band work with younger musicians to give them the opportunity to hear and play with a "working" band, giving them a different dimension to their education. He believes the band may also want to explore some different types of literature and venues to expand the band’s experiences.
Bob Vinson joined in the fall of 2011. In addition to being a top-flight clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax and flute player, Bob is a composer who writes everything from classical concertos, film scores to numerous jazz, pop and theater arrangements and compositions. In those worlds, he is known as Robert Vinson.
He grew up in the arts-minded community of Woodstock, New York, and began composing at the age of 16. Bob earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the Crane School of Music, at SUNY Potsdam, and a Master of Music Degree from the Manhattan School of Music.
He worked as a composer, arranger and performer in New York City from 1975-1981, earning his living in commercial music. At the same time he was composing music for symphony orchestra. Bob moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1981 and worked there until 1987. He performed with the Vancouver Symphony, recorded two jazz albums and performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1985.
Bob moved to Los Angeles in 1987 to study film-score composition with many of Hollywood's leading film composers. In his career, Bob has composed three symphonies, a concerto for violin, a concerto for clarinet, a ballet, and many chamber music works, including a number of works all in homage to George Gershwin.
Jacob is one of the newer members of the Gateway City Big Band. He plays tenor sax for the band, but is equally adept on soprano, alto and baritone saxes. He is a 21 year old from Bridgeton, Missouri and is a graduate of Pattonville High School. Jacob is now a Junior in Music Education with jazz studies at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.
Jacob commented that he enjoys playing with the Gateway City Big Band because he is interested in big band music. One of his reasons for becoming a band member is that, in contrast to most of the community big bands in the area, the band rehearses weekly. He feels that it is important to preserve big band music the way it is intended to be played.
A resident of Bellefontaine Neighbors, he's engaged in production in the metal finishing business. Gary is a member of the St. Charles Municipal Concert Band and its related big band. Hobbies include building model airplanes and miniature railroad trains.
His favorite swing bands include Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Carter and Glenn Miller. That makes sense with all of those clarinet leads that Gary plays in the GCBB Miller arrangements.