Native Detroiter Mike Monford got an early start on his love for music. It began at the age of four while constantly digging through his father’s jazz and R&B albums. His musical interests grew through his teen years when he absorbed himself in the hip-hop culture, and morphed into DJing at parties under the name DJ M & M. The turning point came in high school when he explored singing, but it was the saxophone that became his instrument of choice.
Mike immersed himself in private lessons with jazz legend Teddy Harris Jr., who also became his mentor, and he took in the jazz scene at some of Detroit’s best-known jazz clubs - Bomacs Lounge, Bert's Market Place, The Bluebird, and Baker's Keyboard Lounge. Along the way, Mike’s mentors included resident masters Ken Cox, George Goldsmith, George Davidson, Marcus Belgrave, Donald Walden, and Phil Lasley.
Fresh out of high school in 1992, Mike studied with master saxophonist Phil Lasley and also turned to his peers Dwight Adams, Cassius Richmond, Karriem Riggens, Rodney Whittaker, and James Carter.
In 1997, Mike was awarded a musical scholarship to the University of Hartford - Hartt School of Music. There, he studied with jazz great and master saxophonist Jackie McLean. He also was awarded a musical scholarship from the Societie of the Culturally Concerned, formerly known as the Bluebird Reunion, based in Detroit.
While studying at the Hartt School Conservatory, Mike traveled to New York where he found and was hired by bassist Bill Lee (filmmaker Spike Lee’s father), pianist Marc Cary, pianist Alan J. Palmer, trumpeter Raymond Williams, and bassist Hakim Jami. Not only did he perform with these greats, he also recorded with them. Mike spent some 20 years in New York honing his talents, and entrenched in the history and sounds of jazz.
Armed with his experiences as a performer, composer, and arranger, "Perseverance," Mike Monford's debut CD as a band leader was released in 2012. The CD features Grammy Award winning pianist Marc Cary, Tarus Mateen on bass, Steve Williams on drums, and Rayse Biggs on trumpet.