Mike Wade


Mike Wade

Then: In 1999, CityBeat profiled local Jazz musician Mike Wade, a trumpeter struggling to find his niche here. He was balancing a teaching career with a performance career, wondering if he should leave town and try to make it in the Big Apple. When writer Kathy Y. Wilson asked Wade where he'd be in 2000, he responded, "I hope to have two CDs released. I would love to be signed next year by somebody. I hope to have had several experiences in New York City, dropping into jam sessions or just hanging out." (Issue of May 6, 1999).

Now: Wade keeps improvising. He still teaches at Withrow High School, although he took a two-year hiatus from the job to focus on performing. "I can pretty much always assemble a quartet or quintet," he explains, closing up shop at school way past dinner time.

Wade did release two CDs, Reality (2000) and The Broach Approach (2002), but he says the discs were created for his own label. He's not yet a signed artist.

"A lot of people (at labels) really liked the stuff," Wade says of his CDs, "but they already had an artist. (The CDs) haven't gotten into the right hands yet. Given the opportunity to experience being a label artist — the right opportunity — I would definitely try to do as much as I could."

Wade still balances weekly gigs with teaching. In addition to giving private lessons, he's taken the Withrow marching band to new heights. The group won a major competition in the Turkey Day Classic at Alabama State University, and the drumline recently finished first in a regional competition. The band currently has about 65 members; he'd like to see it at 100 or 150.

Despite turning around the band program, Wade still searches for stability. He holds a music degree, but technically he's not certified to teach. As a result, Cincinnati Public Schools can offer him a contract only a year at a time. It's a system he finds frustrating, and he's ready to leave the improvisation solely to his trumpet.

"I'm trying to get a contract somewhere," he says, "either at Withrow or for two or three record deals. I'm ready to pour my energies into one main contract."

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