Cornetist and clarinetist David Jellema was born in the Nation's Capital and raised in its suburbs. As a lad he spent his summers by the shores of Lake Michigan where he met and came under the influence of two well-known disciples of Bix Beiderbecke—Tom Pletcher and Don Ingle. Ingle's and Pletcher's mentorship continued to inspire Jellema throughout his development.
While growing up in DC, David played his first gigs with local traditional bands such as Southern Comfort (at age 13), Buck Creek Jazz Band, the Storyville Seven, the Last Chance Jazz Band, The Bay City Seven, and the Federal Jazz Commission.
After obtaining his BA in Classical Civilizations, and after further course work in Middle Eastern studies at Calvin College, Jellema lived in Egypt for two years (1989-1991) working with Horn of Africa refugees. He then spent a few months in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey doing relief work with Kurdish residents and refugees. On his return to the DC area in 1992, Jellema began his coursework towards obtaining a Masters in Library Sciences at the University of Maryland. His course of study there procured him a practicum at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History Archives Center, where he organized a collection of Herman Leonard's photographic prints. He stayed on to do contract work in the Duke Ellington Collection. Also at this time Jellema joined the New Traditional Jazz Band.
In January of 1996, Jellema moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to work in the Center for Popular Music, a sizeable archives and library of American popular and vernacular music genres and media. After five years there, Jellema left in order to play music full-time in the Middle Tennessee area.
While in Tennessee, Jellema played with singer, songwriter and guitarist Justin Thompson, touring the Southeast. He also played regularly for two years in Nashville with jazz groups led by multi-instrumentalist David Hungate and singer April Barrows and with groups co-led by Titan Hot Seven drummer Danny Coots and guitarist Jerry Krahn. He made appearances as well in Chapel Hill, NC with Jimbo Mathis and Katherine Whelan of the Squirrel Nut Zippers.
Jellema appears on a dozen or so recordings of various jazz, pop, rock and country artists in Tennessee. Five years ago Jellema joined the alternative art-rock band Juan Prophet Organization, playing clarinet and cornet. He appears on three of their CDs. They completed a two-month tour in the spring of 2007 which brought them from the Knitting Factory in New York City to the Rock It Room in San Francisco, with more than thirty performances country-wide.
In July 2007, at the invitation of Ron Hockett, Jellema moved to San Antonio to work ocassionally with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band. He currently lives in Austin where he frequently appears with a group of youthful jazz players including Jonathan Doyle, J.D. Pendley, Ryan Gould, and Albanie Falletta, among others.
When not playing music, Jellema enjoys writing, photography, and travel. His travels have taken him to Netherlands, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Hungary, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Alaska.
When playing cornet, Jellema plays on a 1965 Getzen Eterna.