Willie Ruff (born September 1, 1931 in Sheffield, Alabama) is the hornist and bassist of the Mitchell-Ruff Duo (with pianist Dwike Mitchell) and one of the founders of the W. C. Handy Music Festival. He was born in Florence, Alabama. The duo regularly performs and lectures all over the United States, Asia, Africa and Europe. Ruff attended the Yale School of Music as an undergraduate and graduate student, and has been a faculty member there since 1971, teaching music history, ethnomusicology, and arranging. In 1967, he was chosen by John Hammond to be the bass player for the recording sessions of Songs of Leonard Cohen, during which he, alone with Cohen, laid down the bed tracks for most of the songs on the album. In 1976-1977, he held a visiting appointment at Duke University, where he oversaw the jazz program and directed the Duke Jazz Ensemble. He is a 1994 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.