There was a benefit lately in his name, proceeds going to a music school and that was good to hear. I was on three hours of sleep that day and feel on the outside of his circle though I appreciate very much what Liz Moon and Conrad Cooper and some other people put together about him–there were spots on the radio I heard and his impact on the local community was the focus.
The only thing I would add about him is how important jazz was, in the makeup of his character and life. Or in any case, that’s what came out during my time with him, partly because he and a few other local players sort of took me in while I was studying for a degree. It was a limited residency program, so the importance of my finding hands on experience was paramount. He stuck up for me on at least one occasion, when the general air of the room was condescending. There’s often such a vetting that comes with the territory in the jazz paradigm, and without getting into that he seemed to think encouragement was at least as important as keeping “the kid” in his place and I appreciated that.
I heard several stories more than once, remarkable stories about his meeting Monk and others I believe, and much of this is written down somewhere. I asked if he wanted help typing up what seemed to me a very worthwhile memoir, but this was one of the things about Mike was his humility, acted out to the exclusion of a public life in these later years. It was actually frustrating for me–if not for this aspect, I thought at the time that we might have been actively performing, he could have had a book out with a considerable, or at least local readership, like that.
He agreed to record some music with me to include as part of my composition thesis. I have mixed feelings about presenting any of that material because he was lukewarm about it, and it was fairly early in my years on jazz guitar but he did okay my using it on the thesis, which is public, so anyway, RIP Mike–wish we had more time to play and talk and I’ll post the other two recordings if it seems right another time: