Maspeth, NY – Jerry Drake’s interest in music began when both his parents played piano. His dad played by ear, and his mom played only if the music was in front of her. His parent, learning that he had an ear for music, hired a piano teacher, for 11-year old Jerry.
Prior to that, as a young child, Jerry played in a park across the street from a trumpet studio. His love for the sound of a trumpet, eventually influenced him to switch from piano lessons to trumped instruction. During that time, he also sang in the chorus in school.
According to Drake, “In my late teens, I began playing in local bands in New York City and Long Island. Most of the musicians in these bands were much older giving me the opportunity to learn the tunes in the 30s and 40s. At age 19, I added valve trombone to my performance. In 1961, the draft board caught up with me and I was drafted into the Army, and spent the next two years playing tuba and trumpet in the Army band.”
Following discharge, Jerry spent five years as a music student in Chicago, graduating in 1970 with a Masters in Music Education from DePaul University. His teaching career began then and continues today. In 1973, he launched a four-piece cover band playing in clubs, private parties, and special events. The personnel grew to six pieces in the 70s and 80s, and so did the variety of music. The group played standard, Latin, disco, rock, and a variety of ethnic music.
After played 150 to 200 gigs annually, for over twenty years, and teaching full-time for the New York Department of Education, Drake took a 2-year break and did free-lance work, exclusively. In 1995, he helped organize and also fronted the New York Big Band, which continues today. This is a repeat performance for Jerry. In 1987, he helped organize, and also fronted The Serenaders in Blue Big Band, which also is active today in the New York Area.
The year was 1998, when Drake kicked off The Front Page Big Band, a highly successful organization in the Manhattan area. So far they have recorded 3 CDs. Jerry sums up his future plans. “it is my intention is to present original material using the tradition big band setting (3 trumpets, 4 trombones, 5 saxes & rhythm). The lyrics must be understandable. Most important, the music and arrangements must be listenable and danceable. Most important, the music must contain within it, all these elements working to communicate ideas, and emotional power to the listener.”