Saxophonist Mike Monford to release “The Cloth I’m Cut From”

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The choice of Cliff Bell’s as the setting for the recording of “The Cloth I’m Cut From” is significant. The legendary jazz club, named after John Clifford Bell, an entrepreneur in Detroit in the 1930s, has a rich history in the city’s music scene. It originally opened in 1935 and has hosted notable artists such as Marcus Miller. The venue’s 1930s-inspired decor, complete with shiny brass and rich mahogany, provides an atmosphere that transports guests back in time, making it the perfect backdrop for Monford’s exploration of his musical roots.

In addition to the historical significance of Cliff Bell’s, its commitment to showcasing live jazz and fostering Detroit’s vibrant music community aligns with Monford’s own dedication to his craft and his city. The multi-generational ensemble accompanying Monford on the album highlights the interconnectedness and continuity of Detroit’s musical legacy.

The album’s release on May 17, 2024, will undoubtedly solidify Monford’s position as a vital force in Detroit’s jazz scene. “The Cloth I’m Cut From” serves as a powerful testament to his personal experiences, musical influences, and the thriving community that has nurtured his growth as an artist. As Monford continues to embrace his role as both teacher and student, his music will undoubtedly inspire future generations to explore and contribute to the rich tapestry of Detroit’s musical heritage.

It was during this period that Monford, leaning on community, began to formalize his place within it, forming the collective Detroit Effervescence, which combined avant-garde sounds, hip-hop, soul and classic jazz influences, and gave work to numerous working Detroit players.

Comprised of folks like pianist Ian Finkelstein, trumpeters Kris Johnson and Dwight Adams, percussionist Piotr Michalowski, MC Mahogany Jones and many others, Detroit Effervescence began to get a rep beyond the city, playing festivals and clubs as far flung as Washington, DC and France. It gave a lift to all the players involved, and played no small part in making space for the world to appreciate just how much great music was being made in Detroit, during a period when things seemed pretty dark.

During this period Monford also connected with the touring band of French Afro-soul duo Les Nubians, which he continues to play in to this day. And he returned to his role as an educator, becoming music director at Chandler Park Academy, founded by Cary and his wife, long-time Detroit music educator Dr. LaSaundra Booth. The building itself is a marvel, a shrine of African American history and culture, where academic, social and cultural studies are firmly linked. “If your behaviour is not in concert with community values, then you’re not in concert — in rehearsal — so you’re not in concert,” Mike explains. It’s the kind of mindset that Detroit cultivates, and that has recently spread across the world. Monford’s music, on Perseverance and, at long last, the forthcoming The Cloth I’m Cut From, has walked that walk for years, paying homage to the city, and the wider diaspora, which nurtured it, and him.

Detroit Effervescence helped pave the way for new opportunities and collaborations. After Cary moved on from his teaching position at Chandler Park Academy, Monford stepped in to fill the role, enabling him to further guide and inspire young musicians in his community. In the midst of teaching, performing, and recording, Monford continued to seek growth and new experiences, always mindful of the interconnectedness of his values, intentions, and creative output.

It was through these experiences and collaborations that Mike Monford solidified his role as a pivotal figure in Detroit’s music scene, with “The Cloth I’m Cut From” serving as a testament to his journey. His ongoing work in music education ensures that the city’s vibrant musical legacy will continue to evolve and thrive for generations to come, while his innovative spirit and dedication to the art form push the boundaries of jazz and inspire audiences around the world.

Mike Monford’s journey with Detroit Effervescence, Autophysiopsychic Millennium, and his various collaborations exemplify his dedication to honouring the past, embracing the present, and shaping the future. By paying tribute to influential figures, personal experiences, and the vibrant Detroit jazz community, Monford has woven a rich tapestry of sound that serves as a bridge between generations and genres.

“The Cloth I’m Cut From” is a testament to Monford’s journey, showcasing his unique sound, the collective talent of the ensemble, and the interconnectedness of individual creativity within a larger community. Tracks like “Jah Jah” and “Piercing Eyes” exemplify the seamless fusion of diverse influences and styles, as the band’s varied talents unite to create a powerful and captivating listening experience.

In the years since the album’s recording, Monford has continued to expand his reach, collaborating with artists such as Lu Fuki and Angel Bat Dawid, and participating in events like Carnegie Hall’s Afrofuturist festival. These experiences have allowed him to explore new avenues of expression and further solidify his status as a vital force in Detroit’s jazz scene and beyond.

Through his music, teachings, and community involvement, Mike Monford has become a guiding light for aspiring musicians and a testament to the power of intention, creativity, and collaboration. As he continues to honour the past and shape the future, Monford’s work will undoubtedly inspire generations of artists and contribute to the ever-evolving landscape of jazz and its interconnected genres.

Last modified: May 15, 2024