Mike Gillespie Flute Jazz Quartet Comes to the Opera House Nov 4th, 2023
Flautist Mike Gillespie will bring his jazz quartet to the Pocahontas Opera House Saturday, November 4th at 7:30pm. Mike introduces himself.
“Mike is a flute player who loves jazz and discovered it care of radio at a very early age.”
As a flute player and jazz lover, I can relate.
“When did you know that music was going to be your thing?”
“It’s funny, my parents did not play an instrument or ever really have a record player or collection of records, but they recognized this little five-year-old kid dancing around whenever he heard music,” said Gillespie. “And at a very early age it was apparent that I had an inclination and pursued it with their support, phenomenal parents.”
He actually started his musical journey on the accordion at age five. His instructor was a bassoonist with the Marine Band and played a variety of woodwind instruments. After a couple of years on the accordion, Mike decided he would rather play the flute. He continued playing the flute all the way through school and college. Over the years he’s been fortunate to play with a wide variety of musicians, but he talks about a couple of people who were particularly influential in his musical career.
“First and foremost was Ed Wiley Jr, sometimes know as “Big” Ed Wiley, Jr; he was one of the quote-unquote ‘Texas Tenors’ in the jazz world,” said Gillespie. “He and I had a close friendship for a couple of decades. He brought me on gigs, he brought me into churches and national gatherings, big church gatherings to play with him during services. He got me in front of a microphone recording in the famous NPR studio 4A which was big enough to hold a 60-piece orchestra. Really wonderful friendship and I miss him every day.”
The other musician was Webster Young, a trumpeter who worked in Washington D.C., New York City and the west coast.
“Amongst other things, recorded with John Coltrane, he was very tight with Jackie McClean, he knew Miles Davis; Webster was the real deal in every possible way and a very colorful personality. I played in a workshop band every week for 7 years with Webster leading. I played gigs with him and got to go out to Portland when he was at the end of his life – he moved back to Portland, Oregon and I was fortunate to go and hang with him a bit there.”
He heard about the Opera House from Bob and Elaine Sheets of Green Bank who told him about the great shows they had seen at the venue. He decided to reach out to the Opera House programming staff.
“Wow, Brynn Kusic and Ryan Krofcheck have just been incredible in every possible way to make this thing happen,” he said. “I have yet to meet Ryan in person, I did make a show and meet Brynn at the Opera House and they’re both just amazing.”
Tune in for the second part of my interview with Mike where we hear about his presentation at a couple of county schools on Friday and about the other members of his quartet.