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.
Paul is a graduate of Fort Zumwalt South High School, as well Webster University (Jazz Performance) and UMSL (Education). As a teacher of elementary music for the Fort Zumwalt School District, he joins a growing group of music educators in Gateway. He also runs a private lesson studio, coaches his kids’ soccer team and works as a freelance musician.
Music wasn’t Paul’s first love; there were lots of other classes he wanted to take. But his parents convinced him that music was worth the effort and as they won’t soon let him forget, they were right!
Playing with Gateway gives Paul an opportunity to play on a regular basis and he enjoys the quality of musicians we have in the band. As a teacher he also appreciates how the GCBB supports students with their music education.
From one of his freelance gigs, Paul tells a story of being hired by an R&B producer. “The producer needed some horn backgrounds and a bit of a solo at the end of the track. The track I recorded went on to become ‘Cool Wit It’ by Murphy Lee and his album went gold. I got stiffed on the payment.” We checked it out on YouTube and it sounds great, but we think he should stick to playing with Gateway.
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.