Bobby Bradford

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Bobby Bradford
Bobby Bradford E5111451sw.jpg
Bradford at the Moers Festival in 2008
Background information
Birth nameBobby Lee Bradford
Born (1934-07-19) July 19, 1934 (age 85)
Cleveland, Mississippi, U.S.
OriginDallas, Texas
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
InstrumentsCornet, trumpet
Associated actsMo'tet, Ornette Coleman, New Art Jazz Ensemble

Bobby Lee Bradford (born July 19, 1934) is an American jazz trumpeter, cornetist, bandleader, and composer. He is noted for his work with Ornette Coleman. In October 2009, Bradford became the second recipient of the Festival of New Trumpet Music's Award of Recognition.[1]


Bobby Lee Bradford's life began in Mississippi; he and his family then moved to Dallas, Texas, in 1946. He moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1953 where he reunited with Ornette Coleman, whom he had previously known in Texas.[2] Bradford subsequently joined Coleman's ensemble, but was drafted into the U.S. Air Force and replaced by Don Cherry.

After playing in military bands from late 1954 to late 1958,[3] he rejoined Coleman's quartet from 1961 to 1963, which infrequently performed in public, but was indeed recorded under Coleman's Atlantic contract. These tapes were among those many destroyed in the Great Atlantic Vault Fire. Freddie Hubbard acted as Bradford's replacement upon his departure to return to the West Coast and pursue further studies.[4] Bradford soon began a long-running and relatively well-documented association with the clarinetist John Carter, a pairing that brought both increased exposure at international festivals (though the records remain scantily available, when one excludes web rips and bootlegs). Following Carter's death in 1991, Bradford fronted his own ensemble known as The Mo'tet, with which he has continued to perform since. He is the father of drummer Dennis Bradford and jazz vocalist Carmen Bradford.

He holds a B.M. degree from Huston-Tillotson College (now Huston-Tillotson University) in Austin, Texas.[5]

In addition to Coleman, Bradford has performed with Eric Dolphy, Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten, Bob Stewart, Charlie Haden, George Lewis (trombone), James Newton, Frode Gjerstad, Vinny Golia, Paal Nilssen-Love, and David Murray, who was previously a student of his in the 1970s.

He is an instructor at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California,[6] and Pomona College in Claremont, California.[7]


As leader[edit]

  • Love's Dream (Emanem, 1975)
  • Vols. 1 & 2 with John Stevens (Nessa)
  • Bobby Bradford & the Mo'tet Lost in L.A. (Black Saint, 1984)
  • One Night Stand with the Frank Sullivan Trio (Soul Note, 1997)
  • Purple Gums (Asian Improv, 2003)
  • Midnight Pacific Airwaves (Entropy, 2009)
  • Live in L.A. with Mark Dresser & Glenn Ferris (Clean Feed, 2011)
  • Silver Cornet with Frode Gjerstad, Ingebrigt Haken Flaten, and Frank Rosaly (Nessa, 2014)

As joint leader[edit]

  • Flight for Four (Flying Dutchman, 1969; as John Carter / Bobby Bradford)
  • Self Determination Music (Flying Dutchman, 1970; as John Carter / Bobby Bradford)
  • Secrets (Revelation, 1973; as John Carter / Bobby Bradford)
  • No U-Turn – Live in Pasadena, 1975 (Dark Tree, 2015; as Bobby Bradford / John Carter Quintet)
  • Comin' On (hat ART, 1989; as Bobby Bradford / John Carter Quintet)
  • Tandem 1 & 2 (Emanem, 1996; as John Carter & Bobby Bradford
  • Reknes (Circulasione Totale, 2009; as Bradford Gjerstad Haker Flaten Nilssen-Love)
  • Varistar (Full Bleed Music, 2009; as Bobby Bradford, Tom Heasley, Ken Rosser)
  • Kampen (NoBusiness, 2012), as Bobby Bradford, Frode Gjerstad, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, Paal Nilssen-Love)
  • Dragon (PNL, 2012; as Bradford, Gjerstad, Nilssen-Love)

As Detail[edit]

  • Detail Plus (Impetus, 1986)
  • Way It Goes/Dance of the Soul (Impetus, 1988) as Detail Plus
  • In Time Was (Circulasione Totale, 1990)

As sideman[edit]

With John Carter

  • Variations on Selected Themes for Jazz (Moers Music, 1979)
  • Dauwhe (Black Saint, 1982)
  • Night Fire (Black Saint, 1981)
  • Castles of Ghana (Gramavision, 1986)
  • Dance of the Love Ghosts (Gramavision, 1987)
  • Fields (Gramavision, 1988)
  • Shadows on a Wall (Gramavision, 1989)

With David Ornette Cherry

  • The End Of A Century (Elephant, 1999)

With Circulasione Totale Orchestra

  • Open Port (Circulasione Totale, 2008)

With Nels Cline

With Ornette Coleman

With Chris Fagan

  • Lost Bohemia (Open Minds, 1992)

With Freebop

  • Live Tracks (Impetus, 1988)

With Frode Gjerstad Quartet

  • Through the Woods (CIMP, 1998)
  • Ikosa Mura (Cadence, 1998)

With Vinny Golia

  • Live at the Century City Playhouse - Los Angeles, 1979 (Dark Tree, 2017)
  • Compositions For Large Ensemble (Nine Winds Records, 1982)
  • Lineage (Nine Winds Records, 1998)
   Sfumato (Clean feed Records)2005
   Bobby Bradford Extet. Midnight Pacific Airwaves (Entropy Stereo)2009 
   Take Your Time (Relative Pitch Records) 2011

With David Murray

With New Art Jazz Ensemble

  • Seeking (Revelation Records, 1969)

With William Parker

With John Rapson

With Thomas Tedesco

With Bob Thiele

With Michael Vlatkovich


  • Isoardi, Steven L. (2006). The Dark Tree: Jazz and the Community Arts in Los Angeles. The George Gund Foundation Book in African American Studies. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-24591-1
  • Litweiler, John (1990). The Freedom Principle: Jazz After 1958. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80377-1
  • Dailey, Raleigh. Folklore, Composition, and Free Jazz: The Life and Music of John Carter. Ph.D. dissertation; University of Kentucky, 2007.


External links[edit]