Mike Gillispie

Jazz Flute


Mike Gillispie with 3 flutes

Native Washingtonian Mike Gillispie started playing the flute when he was 7 years old, studied with service band musicians and quickly added saxophones and more flutes to his bag. By the time he finished high school he was performing regularly throughout the area.

Between his playing and parallel involvement as a photographer of musicians, Mike has lived and played across the country including New York, Boston and Los Angeles and has worked throughout the US and Europe. He credits Frank Wess and Yusef Lateef as major influences and has enjoyed performing and working with musicians including Keter Betts, Bobby Durham, Sir Roland Hanna, Charles Fambrough, Shirley Scott, Ed Wiley Jr. and Webster Young.

Mike returned to DC in 1993 and plays out several times each week. He has had regular shows of his jazz photography including a major exhibition at The Arts Club of Washington. He continues to perform, record, teach, study and "take my flute out for a walk," adding a long list of cities in Eastern Europe to his performance credits during the past few years. His first recording as a leader, "Theory and Practice" was released in 2006.

In addition to regular live appearances on festival and club stages including Blues Alley, One Step Down, Twins and Utopia, Mike enjoys a high profile in the media including interviews and airplay on WPFW-FM, DC’s “home of the real jazz”.

Beginnings and Influences

A native of the Washington DC area, Mike's “amazing and supportive” parents recognized his musical tendencies at an early age. He started playing accordion when he was 5 and switched to flute at age 7. Felix Grant, JazzTimes founder Ira Sabin and the rest of the DC music community exposed the young flutist to a rich sampling of America's Classical Music. By the end of high school he was playing all of the flutes, doubling on saxophones and playing out several nights a week. Yusef Lateef and Frank Weiss were strong influences during his early years.

While studying photography he continued to play regularly with many different jazz and blues musicians in Washington, Richmond and throughout Virginia. Later on his "itchy feet" led him to live and play across the country, including Boston, New York and Los Angeles. He has performed throughout the US and Europe.

Mike returned to his hometown 15 years ago and has been active on the scene, both playing and as a recognized photographer of the music. He plays out regularly and has started to resume his extensive travel schedule. During the past decade he has concentrated exclusively on flutes and spends as much time as possible “in the shed, on the scene and in the classroom”.

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Mike Gillispie

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© 2007-2008 Mike Gillispie. Design by Andreas Viklund, adapted with content by Joanne Masterson.