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.