Willie Ruff wasn’t just a jazz man. He was also a Yale man who served his country alongside the famed Tuskegee airmen. He enlisted in the Army at age 14 and was inspired by an article he read about Charlie Parker to attend the Yale School of Music, where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s before joining the faculty from 1971 to 2017. Born in Sheffield, Alabama, on this day in 1931, he specialized in the French horn and the double bass. Seen here on the “Today” show with longtime collaborator Dwike Mitchell, he discusses his life and music in a TED Talk called “Tuskegee Airmen, Yardbird, and the Blues.”