Bobby Bradford
Bradford at the Moers Festival in 2008
Background information
Birth nameBobby Lee Bradford
Born (1934-07-19) July 19, 1934 (age 87)
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.[1] 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.[2] He taught at Pomona College for 44 years.[3]


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.[4] 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,[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

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 a former instructor at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California,[8] and taught the popular[citation needed] History of Jazz class at Pomona College in Claremont, California, a course that, according to the college's syllabus, covers the history of jazz "from its roots in blues and ragtime through New Orleans jazz, Dixieland, bebop, cool jazz, free jazz and contemporary styles."[9] He retired in June 2021 and was given emeritus status.[10]


As leader

With Circulasione Totale Orchestra

As sideman

With John Carter

With Vinny Golia

With David Murray

With others



  1. ^ Smith, RJ (2019-09-25). "An L.A. jazz legend pays homage to Jackie Robinson, with a pitch from a library assistant". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  2. ^ "FONT :: Festival of the New Trumpet :: Full History."
  3. ^ "Seven Pomona College Faculty Members Retire". Pomona College. 2021-07-09. Retrieved 2021-08-27.
  4. ^ Fred Jung, "A Fireside Chat With Bobby Bradford", Jazz Weekly.
  5. ^ Clifford Allen, "Bobby Bradford: Self-Determination in the Great Basin", All About Jazz.
  6. ^ "Beauty is a Rare Thing," Ornette Coleman Atlantic Collection, liner notes by Robert Palmer et al.; Michelle Mercer, "Jazz West" Archived April 16, 2005, at the Wayback Machine, PCM, Winter 2002, Vol. 39, No. 2.
  7. ^ "Bobby Bradford". Archived from the original on 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2020-03-08.
  8. ^ "Bobbie L Bradford - Pasadena City College". Archived from the original on 2006-09-07. Retrieved 2020-03-08.
  9. ^ "Bobby Bradford | Pomona College in Claremont, California - Pomona College". Retrieved 2020-03-08.
  10. ^ "Seven Pomona College Faculty Members Retire". Pomona College. 2021-07-09. Retrieved 2021-08-27.