Night People: Michael Whitmore

Night People is a set of 5 nocturnes I composed that were inspired by and dedicated to musician friends of great originality. Each piece is based around the solo instrument of each dedicatee, evoking their style and spirit, and supported by an arrangement for octet.

Nocturne #4 (Michael) is inspired by Michael Whitmore, an avant-jazz guitarist, singer and songwriter.

I met Michael Whitmore in Los Angeles when he was working as sound engineer and occasional booker at the hottest club in town at that time, Spaceland. I liked the music acts he brought in, they were always a little off-beat from the more trendy acts that played there and his contributions helped to burnish the reputation of the place.

He would also take the stage himself from time to time, playing with various combos and doing solo turns. It was the memory of seeing Michael’s solo spots that inspired my tribute. Was listening to his Warm in My Pocket CD the other day, an artifact from the Silver Lake renaissance he was a part of. His velvet baritone voice delivering his songs over that warm and unique classical guitar voicing has stayed in my head all there years after hearing it at his many solo gigs.

One day recently I was absent-mindedly playing my nylon string guitar and, as I am wont to do when lacking a big idea with an instrument in my hands, began searching for new chords that I’d never played before. It wasn’t long before I ran into a couple that recalled Michael’s deep and mellow playing and expanded on it. Of course I can’t play like he does so I had to content myself with the vibe and build on it as best I could.

Around the time I put down a rough chord progression for Nocturne #4 I happened to be on a Yusef Lateef binge and had a lot of flute going round my head. It seemed a nice fit with the Whitmore groove to build the arrangement around a modest Lateef-y flute solo. 

Michael Whitmore
Official Website
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