Born in 1954 in Brooklyn, Gerard grew up in a home where you heard piano every day. His father was a self-taught and accomplished stride piano player. Gerard took some desultory piano lessons at eight. But he didn't catch fire until he was twelve; then, suddenly, his father's Erroll Garner and Ramsey Lewis records got him hooked on jazz. Like his father, he learned quickly by ear and was soon playing high school gigs.
By twenty-two, Gerard was ready to become one of the Big Apple's jazz warriors, settling down in Manhattan. He was busy as a full-time musician for the next decade and a half, working the great New York jazz venues like the Blue Note, Birdland, Village Vanguard, Bradley's, Roseland and the Rainbow Room. He also hit the big European festivals like Rome, Torino and the North Sea. A consummate accompanist, he played with first-rate players like Zoot Sims, Red Rodney, Nat Adderly, Mel Lewis, Bucky Pizzarelli and Ira Sullivan.