Bobby Bradford

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For other people with the same name, see Robert Bradford (disambiguation).
Bobby Bradford
Bobby Bradford E5111451sw.jpg
Bobby Bradford, Moers Festival 2008
Background information
Birth name Bobby Lee Bradford
Born (1934-07-19) July 19, 1934 (age 82)
Cleveland, Mississippi, US
Origin Dallas, Texas, US
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, professor
Instruments Cornet, trumpet
Associated acts Mo'tet, Ornette Coleman Quartet, New Art Jazz Ensemble

Bobby Lee Bradford (born July 19, 1934, in Cleveland, Mississippi) 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 begins 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. Quite unfortunately, 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. He is also the father of jazz vocalist Carmen Bradford.

He holds a B.M. degree from Huston-Tillotson College (now Huston-Tillotson University) in Austin, Texas.[1]

In addition to Coleman, Bradford has performed with Eric Dolphy, Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten, Bob Stewart, Charlie Haden, George Lewis (trmbn.), 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,[2] and Pomona College in Claremont, California, [3] where he teaches The History of Jazz, known to be one of the most popular classes available.


As leader[edit]

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

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 Records, 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 Håker Flaten Nilssen-Love)
  • Varistar (Full Bleed Music, 2009; as Bobby Bradford, Tom Heasley, Ken Rosser)
  • Kampen (NoBusiness Records, 2012), as Bobby Bradford, Frode Gjerstad, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Paal Nilssen-Love)
  • Dragon (PNL, 2012; as Bradford, Gjerstad, Nilssen-Love)

As Detail[edit]

  • Detail Plus (Impetus Records, 1986)
  • Way It Goes/Dance Of The Soul (Impetus Recordsm 1988; as Detail Plus)
  • In Time Was (Circulasione Totale, 1990)

As sideman[edit]

With John Carter

With Nels Cline

With Ornette Coleman

With David Murray

With William Parker

With Freebop

  • Live Tracks (Impetus Records, 1988)

With Frode Gjerstad Quartet

  • Ikosa Mura (Cadence Jazz Records, 1998)

With Circulasione Totale Orchestra

  • Open Port (Circulasione Totale, 2008)


  • 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.


  1. ^ "FONT :: Festival of the New Trumpet :: Full History."
  2. ^ Fred Jung, "A Fireside Chat With Bobby Bradford", Jazz Weekly.
  3. ^ Clifford Allen, "Bobby Bradford: Self-Determination in the Great Basin", All About Jazz.
  4. ^ "Beauty is a Rare Thing," Ornette Coleman Atlantic Collection, liner notes by Robert Palmer et al.; Michelle Mercer, "Jazz West", PCM, Winter 2002, Vol. 39, No. 2.

External links[edit]