I would like to impart some thoughts on a slice of Mic’s profession in which his unselfish role as an educator, in my humble opinion, takes center stage. His travels through a vibrant musical kaleidoscope began in childhood. The Gillette family gathered throughout California vacation spots to share laughter and music. The 1950’s black and white movies depict a boisterous family, gathering around a camp fire to play their instruments without restraint.
His grandmother Caroline played piano in the Grand Theater in Oakland for the silent movies being shown, while his grandfather watched the motion pictures and turned the pages at the appropriate musical moments. At 90 years of age she remained vibrant and skillful at lighting up Hap’s in Pleasanton with cool jazz melodies. Grandma Caroline, also known as Carly, was the president of the Hammond Organ Society for many years, and she was as Mic has affectionally declared, “the best grandma ever.”
Mic’s father, Ray layed down his full-time trombone professionally, took a “day job” and stayed by his wife, Mary’s side, to raise their 4 children. Ray decided to pass up touring gigs with the likes of Tommy Dorsey, Stan Kenton, Count Basie, and Woody Herman, and never appeared to have any regrets doing so. Ray’s sweet sound was featured on the beautiful ballad, “Time will Tell” from the Tower of Power album Back to Oakland.
During Mic’s 25 year pause away from Tower of Power he continued to play live gigs, record and began a relationship with the Lafayette Arts and Science Foundation. Through this parent-ran organization he was given the opportunity to go into the classroom and teach kids about the limitless opportunities available to them. He opened their eyes and his own. His goal was and is, to “give back” to aspiring young musicians the gift that he was lucky to have achieved and received through his family and career. Mic continues to work with schools nationwide. He shares his talent and optimistic “G” rated road stories with kids, providing schools with an opportunity to generate income for their budget ravaged music programs. Mic loves to say “I don’t work, I play.” His efforts are truly inspirational. His unselfish desire to inspire and help young players makes me love him more. The change in us, however small or seemingly insignificant, can change the world in a beautiful way. Carly and Ray taught Mic about life through “playing” and Mic carries on the tradition. To stop playing is to forget who you are. I am delighted we found one another and we have playfully traveled this journey togegther ~ Julia