Mic Gillette was a world-renowned musician and a big part of the Lafayette Jazz Workshop for many years. His brilliance as a musician was known even when he was a student (as Mr. Athayde can tell you), and as a member of Tower of Power as well as Cold Blood, he achieved fame at an early age, in the late 1960s. While continuing his performing career, in later life he spread goodwill and the joy of music through education, at Stanley Middle School, the Jazz Workshop, and countless other venues.
Mr. Athayde writes:
“I am at a total loss. Not only was Mic a great trumpet player and musician, he has become a great teacher. If you experienced Mic in a Masterclass at the Lafayette Summer Music Workshop, he was spellbinding. Students left his class uplifted and energized. Mic always focused on energy, music, and the breath. I was fortunate enough to hear him with Tower in May of 1969. Later that year, we played 5th trumpet in the CSUH Jazz Band. By the second rehearsal, they moved Mic to split lead. In Nov., he left to go on the road with Tower. We were very fortunate that he came to teach at Stanley M.S. and the LafSMW. Mic could physically carry the entire band on his back. Whenever you had a chance to play with or hear him, you knew that it would an exciting, emotional experience. There has never been a trumpet player like Mic, and I don’t think that we will hear or experience anyone like him again. I’ll never forget the words he spoke to my nervous Stanley M.S. Jazz Messengers: “Guys, it’s called playing music, not working music. Relax and have fun!”. As for my own playing, Mic always talked to me about air. He could play on any mouthpiece you gave him and he could get the same result. Mic helped me focus away from equipment as a crutch and focus on breath support.”
Here’s a link to the SF Gate story about him.
YouTube video of You’re Still a Young Man, with his famous intro.
There’s a wealth of information available online about his life and career: we encourage you to check it out.