Noteworthy Alumni in the Field of Music: Mark Ledford '78

Mark Ledford ’78 was an accomplished trumpeter, vocalist and guitarist who regularly contributed to smooth jazz and jazz fusion albums throughout the 80s and 90s. Above photo is the cover of his solo album "Miles 2 Go."

After attending Missouri Military Academy, Ledford continued his education at Berklee College of Music. After graduating, he began doing session work with Stephanie Mills, Jon Hendricks, Michael Brecker, Don Byron, Living Colour, Prince, Bill Evans and other major musicians.

His work eventually expanded to appearing in several notable albums, including albums by Special EFX, Walter Beasley, Doc Powell, Brenda Russell, Alex Bugnon, Najee, the Rippingtons, and Club 1600 with Rex Rideout. He also participated in live performances with Kevin Eubanks, Hugh Masekela, Bobby McFerrin, Mary J. Blige and many others.

Among his work, Ledford was most well-known for his partnership with the Pat Metheny Group. His work on Metheny's best-loved album, “Still Life (Talking),” played no small part in its Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance. Ledford vocals helped make the song "Last Train Home" one of the group's most popular songs and a radio standard for jazz music to this day.

In 1998, Ledford released his own solo album, featuring contributions from Metheny and Najee, called “Miles 2 Go,” which features a unique combination of smooth and acid jazz, with underlying tones of R&B, making it a truly spirited work of art, and a strong reflection of his great skills.

In addition to albums and live performances, Ledford contributed to the soundtracks for the Spike Lee films “Mo' Better Blues” and “Do the Right Thing.” He also taught master classes in trumpet at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada.

In November 2004, Ledford died of heart disease in Los Angeles.

MMA is proud to count Mark Ledford among our noteworthy alumni. 

Mark Ledford graduation photo

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