Jerry was born into a musical household in Minnesota. He attended McPhail College of Music in Minneapolis, studying with saxophone master, Ruben Haugen, one of the most influential teaching artists in Minnesota music history. Jerry also studied saxophone with Booker Ervin in New York. In San Francisco, he studied flute with Charlie McCarthy, theory with Sy Perkoff and saxophone with Don Carol (San Francisco Symphony) and Noel Jewkes.
Since that time he has moved around the country including a period in New York soaking up some of the legendary masters such as Coltraine, Mulligan, Diz, Getz and Monk while working at the Village Gate as a waiter and maitre d'. He performed with Jerry Novak's band when they opened three nights for The Doors in New York and later for Blood, Sweat and Tears.