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Featured Tenorman with Famous Big BandsCopyright © 2001
Jerry Jerome was best known in jazz as a tenor saxophone player and featured soloist with the Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw orchestras. He worked with all three at the height of the big band era, and went on to a successful career as a musicial director and composer on radio and television, and in advertising.
He was born in Brooklyn, and began playing the saxophone in high school in Plainfield, New Jersey. His early professional ambition was to go into medicine rather than music, and he attended college and medical school at the University of Alabama, but instead joined band leader Harry Reser and his Clicquot Club Eskimos in 1935.
He played with Glenn Miller and Red Norvo before joining the Benny Goodman Orchestra at the height of its fame in 1938, and remained with the band until the clarinettist broke it up in 1940. Jerome said that Goodman was looking to giev the band "more of a black sound" when he hired him.
When Goodman disbanded the orchestra to have back surgery, Artie Shaw quickly snapped up the saxophonist for his own band. During his tenure with Shaw, he appeared with the band in the film Second Chorus, starring Fred Astaire.
After leaving Shaw's band, he moved into studio work. He became a staff conductor at NBC, and later worked as a talent scout for the rhythm and blues label Apollo Records. He was a successful writer of advertising jingles, but also returned to playing small group jazz.
He spent his last three decades in Sarasota, Flordia, where he continued to both record and perform jazz, and was involved in presenting the city's annual jazz festival. He suffered from leukemia, but remained active until the end, and still had engagements in his gig diary. His most recent recordings are on Arbors Records, including a disc which was due to be released shortly after his death.
He is survived by his wife, Elaine, four sons, two daughters, a stepson, eleven grandchildren and a great-grandchild.