BLAC sat down with international recording artist Mike Monford for an exclusive profile interview ahead of the highly anticipated release of his new album, “The Cloth I’m Cut From.” The following is our interpretation. Find the full interview with Mike below the article.
A Journey of Diverse Influences and Mentorship
International recording artist Mike Monford has been shaped by a rich and diverse musical environment, spanning genres from jazz to hip hop and growing up in an era filled with cultural significance. His upcoming album, “The Cloth I’m Cut From,” aims to celebrate the influence and experiences that have defined his 30-year career. Monford has also had the privilege of learning from some of the greatest jazz legends, such as Jackie McLean and Teddy Harris Jr., who have imparted valuable wisdom and mentorship.
Wide-Ranging Musical Influences
- Exposure to various genres from parents’ diverse record collections
- Growing up in the ’70s and the impact of hip hop culture
- DJing and producing during the golden era of hip hop
- The influence of legendary jazz musicians, such as Lee Morgan and John Coltrane
Learning from Legendary Jazz Mentors
- Studying under Jackie McLean, Teddy Harris Jr, and others in the “indigenous tradition”
- Connecting to the past and understanding the importance of preserving cultural heritage
- Key advice: discipline, consistency, focus, and the pursuit of longevity in one’s career
The Cloth I’m Cut From: A Celebration of Personal and Musical Growth
Monford’s new album aims to encompass his entire journey through music, with influences spanning various styles and eras. The record not only showcases the depth of his musical palette but also highlights his unique style, which he calls “Afro futuristic bop.”
Album Highlights and Themes
- Represents 30 years of growth and transformation in the music industry
- Incorporates various musical elements, such as spoken word, hip hop, and Afro-Cuban rhythms
- Celebrates Monford’s personal and musical growth, as well as the African-American experience
Dedication to Teaching and Mentoring Young Musicians in Detroit
Monford is committed to passing on the knowledge and traditions he learned from his mentors, through teaching and mentoring young musicians. By giving back to his community and preserving their cultural heritage, he hopes to inspire future generations and empower them to pursue their passions.
Goals for His Students
- To pass down the traditions and culture to others
- Develop self-awareness and self-love through learning about their rich cultural heritage
- Continue the legacy of preserving culture and empowering future generations
The Autophysiopsychic Millennium: Preserving a Legacy
Monford played a significant part in the “Autophysiopsychic Millennium” ensemble, created to honor and continue the concept of Audio-Physio-Psychic music developed by Dr. Yusef Lateef. This ensemble not only paid tribute to musicians like Ornette Coleman and Sun Ra but also highlighted Monford’s unique blend of free jazz and bebop, earning him accolades at Carnegie Hall in February 2022.
A Tribute to Influential Musicians
- Honoring the legacy of musicians who played “avant-garde jazz” or “free jazz”
- Highlighting Monford’s unique style, now referred to as Afrofuturism
- Performing at Carnegie Hall: A milestone in his career
Educating Through Afrofuturism and Jazz
Monford’s work in educational activities at the University of Michigan and Cranbrook of Art focuses on writing a curriculum for Afrofuturism and its connection to his work as a jazz musician. By teaching students about Afrofuturism, Audio Physio Psychic Millennium music, and the Black experience, Monford aims to give back to the community and preserve the rich cultural heritage of the African American art form.
Vision and Goals in Education
- Engaging students in workshops, masterclasses, clinics, and panel discussions
- Emphasizing the importance of community involvement and passing on cultural traditions
- Preserve the African American art form and honor the elders who have contributed to the genre
With a wealth of experiences that have shaped his career and a strong dedication to preserving cultural heritage, Mike Monford embodies the spirit of jazz and Afrofuturism in both his music and educational pursuits.
With his forthcoming release, Monford aspires to encompass his entire personal and musical journey, while showcasing his unique style he calls “Afro futuristic bop.” Discussing his creative process, Monford reveals, “The album celebrates everything I’ve absorbed from childhood to this moment, reflecting my growth as a human, a Black man, and an indigenous man, as well as my musical growth.”
Harmonizing the Past, Present, and Future
As the eagerly awaited release of “The Cloth I’m Cut From” draws near, Mike Monford’s powerful blend of jazz and Afrofuturism promises to enrapture fans and reinvigorate the musical sphere. With each note, Monford eloquently weaves together a story of tradition, evolution, and endless possibilities.
Q & A with Mike Monford
BLAC: Mike, your journey through the world of music is impressive. You’ve effectively merged various musical influences into your art, thrilling audiences with your unique blend of genres and your unapologetic Afrocentric viewpoint in your compositions.
Mike Monford: My journey has indeed been vibrant, marked by exposure to broad genres and a multitude of artists from a young age, thanks to my parents’ eclectic record collection. This early exposure to artists such as Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, James Taylor, Elton John, and others opened my eyes to a breadth of musical styles, undoubtedly influencing my creative evolution.
BLAC: Your soon-to-be-released album, “The Cloth I’m Cut From”, has certainly piqued the interest of fans. Could you share a bit about the influences behind its creation?
Mike Monford: “The Cloth I’m Cut From” signifies a comprehensive culmination of my musical journey to date, anchored strongly in my heritage and roots. The album is a manifestation of my personal and artistic evolution, offering listeners an immersive journey through all of my musically influential experiences, from my childhood to the present.
BLAC: It’s noteworthy that you have dedicated considerable energy towards mentoring and teaching aspiring musicians in Detroit. What fuels your commitment to fostering these young talents?
Mike Monford: My obligation to pass on the musical legacy stems from the teachings of my mentors, who impressed upon me the significance of nurturing the next generation. It is my firm belief that diverse, knowledgeable teachings are pivotal for young minds to grow and thrive. I’m essentially endeavoring to do my part in continuing this invaluable cultural relay.
BLAC: Your opportunity to perform at the celebrated Carnegie Hall must have been an incredible moment in your musical journey. Could you share more about the experience?
Mike Monford: Performing at Carnegie Hall was indeed a profound experience, both personally and professionally. As an ensemble, our performance was imbued with the essence of Afrofuturism, merging tradition with forward-thinking concepts. The enormity of the setting was not lost on me; it was humbling to honor the legacy of my mentors and our shared ancestors on such a prominent platform.
BLAC: Apart from being a prolific musician, you’ve also actively engaged in educational pursuits at the University of Michigan and Cranbrook Art, specifically writing a curriculum on Afrofuturism. Can you delve deeper into this project?
Mike Monford: Yes, education is another facet close to my heart. The curriculum I am involved in developing aspires to safeguard and propagate African and indigenous traditions inherent in jazz. At Cranbrook, our mission is to instill in students a deep understanding of Afrofuturism, Audio Physio Psychic Millennium music, and the Black experience. It is a concerted effort to ensure cultural relevance and continuity, thus enabling communities to remain firmly connected with their roots.