Band leader and music director are roles that have been played by Mike McLeod, but his passion is for playing the trombone as he does with the Truth in Jazz Orchestra.
Mike grew up with music. His mother was a talented singer and his father was an aficionado of big band music, especially Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. So the house was filled with music.
With big band stars in his eyes, Mike started playing the tuba in the third grade. And all the way through high school, he played whatever instrument was available, going from tuba to baritone horn, and finally, in high school, to trombone.
He studied music education at Michigan State and music has been a driving force in his life ever since. At one point, he became involved with a cruise line and played trombone in the band. Eventually he was promoted to music director and was responsible for all the live music on the ship.
During his music career, Mike has had opportunities to play with many well known musicians including, among many others, Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lee Lewis, Maureen McGovern, Eartha Kidd, and Jack Jones.
These days, in addition to TIJO, Mike is a trombone player for the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra and does regular gigs for various other local groups.
“Performance gives me a chance to express myself in music,” Mike says. “When you’re playing in a band and it’s ‘groovin,’ there’s no better feeling. In a good band, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
As far as the audience goes, Mike comments, “If people are dancing and moving their feet, you’re doing your job. You are getting through to them at one level or another.”
Mike and his wife, Patty, live in Grand Rapids.