Composer and multi-reed
instrumentalist from Rochester,
New York, who was a friend of
Chuck Mangione from childhood and played with him
in bands throughout their teens and beyond. They both attended the Eastman
School of Music and Gerry graduated in 1970. He passed along his knowledge to
students at Denonville
Middle School and Penfield High School. After his own education was
complete, he joined the Chuck Mangione Quartet
and appeared on their self-titled album in 1972.
He was a
multiple threat in the studios because he could play so many
instruments—alto flute, alto sax, baritone sax, bass flute, clarinet,
flute, piccolo, and tenor sax—although his signature instrument was
the soprano sax. A good example
of his craftsmanship can be heard on “Legend of the One-Eyed
Sailor”, which appears on Chuck’s album, Land of Make
Believe. In 1976, Gerry moved to The Big
Apple and embarked on a career as a session musician.
groups with whom he worked comprise Steve Brown, Judy Collins, Gil Evans, Astrud Gilberto, Peggy Lee, Mark Murphy, Anne Murray,
Sinead O’Connor, the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra, Dave Samuels,
Simon & Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, and the Sunday Morning Jazz
released albums under his own name, such as Alone, Facets, Gerry Niewood
and Timepiece, Share My Dream,
and Slow Hot Wind.
On the big
screen, his saxophone stylings could be heard on
the soundtracks of Annie, A Bronx Tale, King of Comedy, National
Lampoon Goes to the Movies, Shining
Through, and When Harry Met
February 2009, en route to Buffalo from Newark, he was killed
in a plane crash along with band-mate Coleman Mellett
and approximately fifty others.
He was only 65 years old.
A myspace tribute page is listed below.
The Spinners recordings
Disco Ride (Jolyon