Born: March 20
Gerry has been described by many as a renaissance man. Multi-talented Gerry graduated cum laude from both Phillips Andover Academy and Harvard, and received two graduate degrees from UCLA. His musical influences range from classical masters Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff, to jazz legends Nat King Cole and Duke Ellington, to contemporary pianists Keith Jarrett and Ramsey Lewis. He describes his original music as rhapsodic and “Third Stream”, a term coined in 1957 by composer Gunther Schuller to describe a musical genre that is a synthesis of classical music and jazz. Gerry has had extensive classical training since childhood, then later he began broadening his musical vocabulary by immersing himself in many other musical genres.
In addition to two albums of timely and timeless original music and jazz standards featuring his jazz group, PocketWatch, Gerry has recorded eight primarily solo piano albums of classical music, original music, and of uniquely arranged and reimagined standards.
Gerry is currently working on what will become a series of albums solely devoted to exceptional Black classical music composers who have been overlooked throughout history. Simply entitled The Composers, the first album in the series, released on Parma Recordings’ Navona label in January 2023, consists of a few works by Blind Tom (Wiggins), a slave who presumably was the first Black American classical composer, and many more by the late Florence Price, whose music has so moved Gerry that he has included her in my list of favorite composers, along with the trio of historical, highly acclaimed white male composers mentioned above who are always reverently referred to by their last name only. Hopefully, Ms. Price will one day also attain that status and level of reverence.
“It would not be an understatement to say that Gerry has a wide-ranging approach to playing piano. Few pianists can play jazz and classical music equally well and with their own musical personality. He is an expressive classical musician who puts plenty of feeling into his thoughtful renditions of classics. He is also an excellent jazz artist with his own sound who gives popular compositions the same respect that he does the classical works while displaying the freedom to make the songs his own. Gerry is a talent well worth discovering.” — Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author
“I really like what you’re doing musically.” — Kenny Burrell, jazz legend
“Gerry’s conflation of classical training and jazz intuition has enabled him to indulge his keen understanding of counterpoint, structure, harmony and the arc of musical narrative