Jerry Wheeler was my best friend in high school. I remember we met on the back steps of the band room for my first ever class at Cypress High, which was “beginning jazz band” in summer school. As I recall, the first song was “Down Home”. I’d never played jazz before, but knew I had to try it. We had a great time in band together the following 3 years.
While I did develop well as a musician in school, I had serious doubts about making a living, so I went for the big bucks: Computer Science. In 1979, that was pretty early. Jerry stuck with music, and today is a great performer.
I’d been thinking about Jerry lately, since I was to see him perform this week, after 20 years away living in the Bay Area. In looking through his photos on Facebook, I found one taken by his friend Jeannen Calvin that really spoke to me. I think of Jerry’s connection to music, whether playing trombone or singing, as deep and spiritual. Although it’s a great joy, I know it’s also something that he’s spent a great deal of time perfecting. He makes it look easy.
After 20 years in high-tech, and splitting my time now between social media marketing and art, in a way, I’ve come full circle. Although I did enjoy my tech career, there’s nothing like art—and today, for me it’s not playing the trombone, it’s painting. I hope this painting brings together those two passions: the performer in Jerry, and the painter in me.