Michael Harmon Davenport was born in Tacoma, Washington on October 4, 1943, the son of Harmon and Edna Davenport. He passed away peacefully on June 30, 2019 in Tacoma, with his family at his side.
His creative energy, driving artistic spirit and love of both music and teaching inspired generations of students and gave rise to a rich career as a performer, conductor, and composer/improviser who maintained the highest possible artistic standards in performance, whether conducting a middle school band or performing the world premiere of a work written for him.
As the son of a piano teacher and graphic artist, Michael was comfortable working in the arts from a young age, performing frequently in local jazz venues and on KTNT radio and TV while a student at Stadium High School (class of 1961). He went on to earn his Bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of Washington, where he met his wife, Laurie, a fellow music student. He then pursued his teaching certificate at Western Washington University.
Michael taught music at public schools in Bellingham, Yakima, and finally his native Tacoma, where he worked at both Meeker and Stewart. When his daughter Kim was born, he made the decision to leave his career as a public school teacher and start his own studio, where he would influence hundreds of private students, ranging from children learning to play the clarinet or saxophone, to adults developing their skills in jazz improvisation.
Throughout his career as a teacher, Michael continued to develop his skills as a professional musician, fearlessly pushing conventional boundaries in both classical music and jazz. A multi-talented performer, he appeared with the Seattle and Vancouver Symphonies, as well as appearing as a jazz artist at Bumbershoot, Bellevue Jazz Festival, Seattle’s Jazz Alley, and the Du Maurier International Jazz Festival in Vancouver.
He was most proud of his musical collaboration with his daughter, Kim. Their bass clarinet/piano duo collaborated with composers from around the world, released four critically acclaimed recordings, and founded a publishing company devoted to works for the bass clarinet. The center of his life was always family. He leaves not only his immediate family, but also a much larger family of students, friends, and people he may never have met, but who will continue to discover his legacy of recorded music.
Michael was preceded in death by his father Harmon, his mother Edna, and his sister Amber. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Laurie, and his daughter, Kim.
To honor Michael’s wishes, there will be no service. His family sends special thanks to the staff of St. Joseph’s Hospital, who were professional, kind, and thoughtful during Michael’s long hospital stay, as well as to the staff of Franciscan Hospice House, who provided a peaceful final day.
Arrangements by Gaffney Funeral Home