Mike Gillispie started playing the accordion at age 5. His teacher was a bassoonist in the Marine Band and exposed him to woodwinds, prompting Mike to switch to flute at age 7. He soon developed a lifelong interest in American Classical Music. With Felix Grant and Rusty Hassan on the radio and a rich community of musicians around him he found his way to his Saturday hang at Sabin's Discount Records. Ira Sabin sold Mike his first copy of Frank Wess' Wess To Memphis LP (which Mike wore out over the next couple years). Mike knew Herbie Mann and Moe Koffman beforehand, but it was Wess who really opened his ears to the possibilities on flute. Hubert Laws on CTI later became important to him, as did Sam Most, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Yusef Lateef and resident local heroes including Tim Eyermann.
Mike added saxophones to his bag and by the time he was a senior in high school he was playing out every weekend. Having a good case of "itchy feet", Mike followed his passions around America--ultimately living and working in the South, Rocky Mountains, Midwest, Los Angeles, New York, Boston and finally back home in DC. Along the way Mike photographed, studied, hung and played with many of his heroes. The short list includes Nasar Abadey, Keter Betts, Wes Biles, Bobby Durham, Charles Fambrough, James King, Herbie Mann, Kevin McNeil, Steve Novosel, Shirley Scott, Frank Wess, Ed Wiley, Jr., Rick Whitehead and Webster Young. The longer list is very long indeed.
He returned home in time to make his regular hang One Step Down (before it closed) while playing in private and public venues around the area. The itchy feet persisted and Mike has been a sideperson and leader in small groups throughout the US, Western Europe and later Eastern Europe, Brazil and Japan. Meanwhile back in Washington he had one-person photography (and music of course) shows at One Step, Laporta's and The Arts Club of Washington. Mike continues to lead duo, trio and quartet gigs featuring many names from the area's amazing roster of A list musicians.