The Coda interview with Bobby Bradford | 1976

Bobby Bradford | June 16, 1983 | Photo by Mark Weber

(Looking at the Prestige two-fer “The Arranger’s Touch”, 1950’s material by Gil Evans and Tadd Dameron):

BOBBY BRADFORD: Oh I’ve got this stuff on other records, man this is great! Philly J.J. and Theme Of No Repeat, I used to play in a band back here in L.A. in the early ’50’s and we had all these charts, listen to the make-up of this band: Sonny Criss was playing alto, a kid who spent all his life in the penitentiary since then played baritone, named Earl Anderza, bad! An alto player who played baritone. And Vernon Slater from L. A. played tenor. Herb Mullins was playing trombone, he used to play around with Lionel Hampton. The bass player was this cat who plays around New York now, Moe Edwards. And a chick playing piano, Vivian Slater, the tenor player’s wife; a hell of a pianist, (back to record) Yeah, this group here is dynamite! On this one thing here on the Evans material Lacy plays a beautiful solo, just a short one but whew it’s good. Lacy and I were supposed to make a record for some company in Paris, but you know it’s just a mess, the record business. Somebody told me recently that the best way to get a record out now is to record it yourself and send the record company a test pressing. If they like it they’re going to find you, if they don’t they’re going to throw it in the garbage. You can save all that time knocking on doors to see Mr. Record himself. And then if they want it you can sell it outright or lease it.

Mark: I’ve always thought that you should be recording all along. Ten years from now everybody’s going to wonder where all that music went.

Bobby: Oh I do, but not quality tapes. I have tapes at Ornette’s place with Ornette’s band.

Ornette Coleman Quartet 1962 NYC | Jimmy Garrison, Bobby Bradford, Ornette, Charles Moffett | photographer unknown

Mark: When you were with Ornette in ’61 and ’62?

Bobby: Sure, Ornette’s got just reams of tapes of us. But of course he’s kind of a packrat, you know what I mean? He has his video tape machine, and saxophones that he’s broken hanging in big bags from the walls, Uher tape recorders that he’s broken and tried to fix himself, but that’s just the kind of cat he is. You know what kind of mess tapes make when they are unwound, well he’ll have them shoved under beds or stacked up in the corner.

Mark: I’ve heard that Ornette has tapes of him and Albert Ayler playing together.

Bobby: Maybe so, I kind of doubt that though. I could see a cat like Albert Ayler having a difficult time getting Ornette to sit down and make a tape of them, because Ornette thinks you’re always trying to make a tape to sell of him, you know? Because that would be a pretty marketable tape, don’t you think? Ornette’s very suspicious of anybody coming up, if a man came up and said, “Hey man I got a bag of gold for you”, Ornette would just look. See what I mean? Because man he’s been ripped off so many different ways, he’s never made the type of money that he’s supposed to make, none of the cats have. This music business man, it’s a bitch! They have already agreed that the musician is a certain type of fellow that they are going to treat a certain type of way, I can just see them now back in their offices saying, “Here’s some more of those jazz musicians….” It’s like they think the musicians are a necessary evil or something like that so they can play out their roles or whatever. That’s just a picture that comes to my mind from watching these things over the years. It’s not about being fair or even close to fair. It’s just whatever they can pull off.

Mark: What were these “collaborations with Coltrane” that I’ve read about? Playing?

Bobby: No, not really. All we really did was fool around at Ornette’s. We talked about making a record, just talked though. He used to come to Ornette’s to hear our rehearsals, that’s when he was getting ready to really move out. So he came to check it out. He used to come every Saturday morning. He’d make the drive from Long Island, where he lived then, down to downtown Manhattan where Ornette used to live in a loft, way down where Broadway almost runs into the ocean. He was still with Miles then. So he’d come to hear the rehearsals and we’d take a break and be talking, and we talked about doing a date, but it never got past that.

Mark: Didn’t Leonard Feather talk down the music of the Carter-Bradford Quartet in his L.A. Times column?

Bobby: Yes and no. He didn’t talk it down any more than anybody else who was playing this kind of music back in the sixties. He was consistent there at one point about what he said, not that I got upset about what he said. We were playing down at Shelley’s Manne-Hole once back in the sixties and he came in and saw us and wrote it up the next day in the Times, saying that this is Ornette Coleman’s type of music. Now maybe the format is like Ornette’s in that it’s free music but my music or John Carter’s is not like Ornette’s, do you know what I mean? Not really. But Ornette is the pioneer in that type of music so you have to expect to be sounded against what Ornette has done. But now after all of these years I’ve sort of accepted all of that stuff, it’s all part of the scam, something that you’ve got to do.

Mark: Did you ever play with Red Connor?

Bobby: No, I heard Red play lots of times though – a hell of a saxophone player! He played tenor, and like Ornette and lots of other guys from Fort Worth, he used to come over to play in Dallas, he used to play with a guy named Bobby Simmons who played trumpet and was playing Miles’ and Dizzy’s licks back then. At this point I’m in high school, the 12th grade or something, and they came over to play at a little club in Dallas called The Disc Jockey, he and Bobby and David Newman on alto….

Bobby Bradford during the interview | September 17, 1976 | Photo by Mark Weber

Mark: Who used to go to your school then.

Bobby: Yeah, he went to the same high school that I did, but he was several years ahead of me. Anyhow he was a precocious kind of cat, when he was 15 he could play, he was the kind of cat who just picked the horn up one day and by that afternoon he could play, James Clay was like that too, really gifted cats. Anyway what impressed me about this Red Connor was just the way he handled a saxophone, with such dexterity and completely relaxed, he was like a wet noodle. Man they would be playing these lightning tempos and he’d just be standing there playing all over his horn, just effortless. There was a cat who never had any lessons, just taught himself how to play the horn. He played kind of like Lester Young in a way, in his approach physically to the horn but was playing the Parker things, and you could hear Lester in his sound – a big, breathy, gauzy kind of sound, real full, but he wasn’t playing quite as spaced. By that I mean that he wasn’t using as much space in his solo line as Young, he was already off into the Parker tradition, by this time Sonny Stitt had already made some inroads into the modern tenor saxophone so I guess Red Connor could have picked up on what Stitt was doing.

Here was a cat right in our own area who was easily as good a tenor saxophone player at that point as anybody on the scene. I wouldn’t have been nervous about seeing him with Sonny Stitt, or with Lockjaw, Ben Webster, Hawk or with anybody, he was a monster! And there were several other cats around town who were of that caliber. Dallas has been a jumping-off place for a lot of professionals, in residence in the same city while I was living there, and I played with them sometimes. There were cats like Buster Smith, the alto player with Basic right? And his brother Boston Smith, who played piano. Buster had a little band and I played with him when I was 15 years old. Of course I don’t know what I was playing, couldn’t have been much, but there I was on a gig with a cat like Buster Smith, see what I mean? And I was listening. Here we had the university of jazz right there in Dallas at our disposal if we had sense enough to do something about it. John Hardee was living there, a Coleman Hawkins or Ben Websterish sort of tenor player, a bad ‘ cat.

Then there was Freddie Jenkins, a trumpet player from Duke Elllngton’s band. He didn’t play anymore because he had tuberculosis, but his influence was still there forcing the other trumpet players to do more of what they were doing. And then there were other cats who didn’t have national reputations but they were good, a lot of good old well seasoned ex-professional musicians in town. Red Calhoun, and there was another little band I used to play with around town by the name of Shorty demons, a tenor saxophone player, and another saxophone player called Brother Bear, that’s what they called him. I don’t know what his name was but a good blues and ballad saxophone player. You see in Dallas during that period it was always a dancing situation, there were no clubs where you went to see a band and listen, where the audience would just sit. You always had to play danceable music even when you were trying out your bebop licks.

In those days you were always playing in bands that were playing for people who were going to dance. So guys like James Moody would come to town with a band and he had to play for a dance too, and so did Sonny Stitt, and Gene Ammons. The later it got into the evening though the more jazz they played, the drunker people got the less inclined they were to dance. So the cats would open up and start playing a little bit more jazz and everybody would listen.

Bobby Bradford & Stanley Crouch | @ The Little Big Horn | April 24, 1977 | Photo by Mark Weber

Richard Rehwald & Bobby Bradford | @ The Little Big Horn | October 28, 1976 | Photo by Mark Weber

Richard Rehwald, bass; Jimmy Robertson, flute; Bobby Bradford, cornet | October 28, 1976 | Photo by Mark Weber

Mark: What blues players were around then? I know that Victoria Spivey lived and worked in North Dallas, she recorded Black Snake Moan in 1927.

Bobby: Well the Black part of North Dallas was a notorious cut-throat get-killed area. But I’m not familiar enough with her music to say, other than what’s on her records. I did hear Lightnin’ Hopkins a lot when I was a kid there in Dallas, although he spent most of his time in Houston. And there were the Johnson brothers in Dallas – Keg Johnson, the old man who just died recently who played trombone in a lot of big bands, and Budd Johnson, the tenor player who played with Billy Eckstine’s big band and used to write for Count Basie and a lot of other people. There was Red Garland, the pianist with Miles. And a tenor player named Warren Lucky who used to be with Gillespie. Hot Lips Page, T-Bone Walker and a lot of other people used to hang out in Dallas a lot, like Lloyd Glenn, Lowell Fulsom, and a lot of the blues bands that I used to play with back in those days I met in Dallas, guys like Percy Mayfield, and Charles Brown. I played with him in ’53, somewhere around then. Monk Montgomery was in that band, you know Wes Montgomery’s brother. I played with PeeWee Crayton during that time. And remember there was a tune during the war period that was real popular, The Hucklebuck recorded by Joe Liggins, and he had a brother in the business, not quite so popular named Jimmy Liggins and I played in his band once. They were passing through town and needed a trumpet player so I played a couple of jobs with him. You know sometimes you might play with bands just a couple of times and forget all about it until somebody mentions it, like Joe Houston who recorded Pachuco Hop, I played with him around California.

Mark: He was a bar walker, wasn’t he?

Bobby: Oh yeah, honker, screamer, a good tenor player though. A lot of kids peeped some things from him. Do you know this tenor player Big Jay McNeely? He did the bar walking and the squealing too but he could play the saxophone. Lots of cats ripped off Big Jay’s licks, believe it! You know, somebody like Bill Haley, I’m sure he ripped off a lot of things from Big Jay.

Mark: When you first came to L. A. in ’53 you played with all kinds of people.

Bobby: Oh yeah, all the cats. Eric Dolphy, but not on a regular basis, just casual jobs. Dolphy had just gotten out of the army, and Walter Benton, a tenor player here who was big friends with Eric, they went to high school together, I played with those two a lot. Eric in those days was still playing kind of like Charlie Parker, he never quite had a sound like Parker but he was playing the Parker line, you know. Walter Benton was playing kind of like you would imagine, sort of an updated Lucky Thompson/Coleman Hawkins. And I played with Ornette obviously. And played around town with Joe Maini, the saxophone player who got killed playing with a pistol, some sort of accident or something, an Italian cat from New York. And I played some with Herb Geller, he’s in Germany now and has his own club. Both of those cats Maini and Geller recorded with Clifford Brown. There used to be a club down at 3rd and Main called The Tip Top, sort of a gay bar, and we played there Friday and Saturday nights. Sunday at 6:00 in the morning was a jam session and it would be packed, that was sort of the red light district in those days. Nobody would go to bed that night, we’d go out to the beach and fool around, because if you went to bed you would never get up for that. Then we’d play to around 11:30 -12:00 and then go home to bed.

As I remember Ornette never played there, but Ornette and I used to play in the general area, down on 5th Street which was a gay area too and everything else, dope peddlers, prostitutes, everything but more Black than 3rd and Main. We used to play at a little club down there called The Victory Grill, and another The Rose Room. Ornette, me, Eddie Black-well, and a piano player named Floyd Howard who’s still around L.A. but I don’t think is playing anymore. We played Ornette’s tunes and some jazz standards. We didn’t get that much work but we were playing often enough to be playing some of Ornette’s tunes. Then I went into the service in December of ’54 and Don Cherry became the trumpet player with Ornette.

Bobby Bradford with KPFK disk jockey’s Paul Vangelisti and John Breckow | January 14, 1977 | Photo by Mark Weber

John Carter & Bobby Bradford | November 17, 1978 | Smudge Pot, Claremont Colleges, California | Photo by Mark Weber

Bobby Bradford, cornet; Mark Dresser, bass; James Newton, flute | @ The Little Big Horn | January 2, 1977 |  Photo by Mark Weber

Mark: That’s when Ornette lived at the Morris, a sort of skid-row hotel on 5th Avenue?

Bobby: Now I don’t know about that, but you know how the stories come and go. As I remember it, when Ornette moved out here he married a young girl from Los Angeles who’s a poet in New York now, Jayne Cortez, that’s Ornette’s ex-wife. But I remember Ornette living with his in-laws. I don’t remember him living in any flophouse down on 5th Avenue. You know musicians get down and out on this stuff but you’re not going to see Ornette down in some place needing a bath, I don’t care how hard times get you’re not going to see me down in the street with my pants on and the ass out, one shoe on and needing a hair cut, no none of that. You might see some cat going through a mental phase but you’re not going to see Ornette needing a bath, you know what I mean? Somebody might read that somewhere and just assume that all of that might be happening. I remember when Ornette got married I was the only one of our bunch who had a car, one that my step-father had got me because he was a mechanic. An old ’41 Chrysler, lemon of a car.

Ornette and I used to troop around in it and it would break down, or when you drove around too much at night the battery would wear down and the car wouldn’t start. So when he got married I helped him move out of the family’s place with it, into this little apartment. They didn’t have much in the way of belongings so it didn’t take too much to move them. In fact Ornette and I used to work together at Bullock’s. I worked there as a stock-boy, you know wearing the little blue smock and running around. So when I had to go into the service, I knew about a month in advance, and I knew that Ornette was looking for a job, so I told him that when I leave he should get this job. Ornette was wearing a beard then and his hair was long, so I said, “Man you know what’s gonna happen if I take you in lookin’ like this”, this was 1954. So he shaved and got his hair cut, man did he look funny.

Well we went down to meet the cat, and the cat hired him, and we worked together for my last month or so. He moved from that into elevator boy and stockboy, we talk and laugh about it now. At that point he didn’t think he was going to be able to make any money playing music like he wanted to, so he had to get a job. But the next thing I knew my mother had written me in the service and told me that Ornette had made a record, it must have been ’58. I also remember playing around L. A. with Wardell Gray, who got killed in some dope deal out in Las Vegas. I’m not sure what happened, I really don’t like to think about it. The newspapers said one thing, but I suspect another. They found him in a field about 20-30 miles outside of Las Vegas. Anyway, I used to go over to his house and he’d show me things just by rote. Nice cat, and a hell of a saxophone player! It was a big help, inspiration-wise, for a cat like that to befriend you and help you out like that, because you can’t go up to some of these popular players now and say, “Hey man, will you show me…?”, they’d say, “What!…”, you just can’t feel free to do that anymore, it’s sort of secret. Times have changed, it’s not about that anymore.

Mark: Have you ever been associated with Horace Tapscott and the U.G.M.A. (Underground Musicians Association)?

Bobby: I’ve only played for Horace in a sort of filler position in times when he needed me to do something. I never was a regular part of his organization. I talked to Martin Davidson the other day and he wants to re-press “Love’s Dream”, it should be out in a couple of weeks. I’d like to make a record now, but I want to make a good sounding record like the quality of ECM or one of those labels. You know, where you can sit down and hear the bass parts, and the whole band. Another thing, whenever I make a record anymore I’m going to have some of the tracks short enough to be played on the radio. There’s no point in asking the disc jockey to play a 12-minute cut of mine, so I’m going to have a shorty on each side and I’m going to call it A Short Piece For Radio, or something like that. You know what I mean, those cats won’t play for me, they’ll do it for Herbie Hancock, but not for some avant garder from Mississippi.

Mark: When did the New Art Jazz Ensemble begin?

Bobby: 1964, ’65, somewhere around then. I was living in Pomona and John (Carter) got in touch with me, and asked me if I was interested in starting a group. It must have been ’66 when we started rehearsing over on 103rd and Grandee, right in the middle of Watts. John and I, Bruz Freeman, and we went through a couple of bass players before we got Tom Wllliamson – all of the others sort of bombed out because they weren’t interested in playing free music. John and I were in a similar position, both teaching for the obvious family reasons or whatever, and both frustrated over not having fulfilled what we had wanted to do in music. While I was in Pomona my horn was under the bed, like “that thing has called it a day or something… probably not though”. So we were making ourselves available for anything that came along, we’d play a benefit in a minute. So eventually we made those records on Revelation and Flying Dutchman. …

Glenn Ferris, trombone; Bobby Bradford, cornet | December 19, 1976 | Photo by Mark Weber

Mark: “Self Determination Music” has two basses.

Bobby: Yeah, they didn’t mention Henry Franklin on that one. Not only that, but they flopped all the negatives backwards so it has me playing left-handed and Bruz has his name on those as Buzz. By the time we made “Secrets” for Revelation I had already gone over to Europe once, in the summer of 71, and I made that record with John Stevens and SME for Alan Bates at Polydor Studios. Then came back and made this record with John (Carter), we used Ndugu on a couple of tracks and Louis Spears – you know him, he’s played with everybody, Nancy Wilson, Eddie Harris and Erroll Garner, a good bass player. I think he’s from Oklahoma, has a brother named Maurice who plays trombone with Ray Charles. When I met those guys they were both in a band travelling with Lou Rawls in the late ’50’s before Lou was a big name. Then I made that record with Ornette, “Science Fiction”, in the summer of ’72. In ’68 Ornette came here and I went up north with him to perform with about 35 people from the San Francisco Symphony, a piece that Ornette called “The Sun Suite”. We performed that at the Greek Theatre at Cal Berkeley and Ornette has the tapes of that too. Ornette said he might sell that to somebody who wants to buy it. I think that before too much longer Ornette and I will probably make a record together, if not at his insistence then at mine. I’d like to make a recording with him playing my music – you know, put him in another environment. He likes my tunes, I think (laughter). As we both get older the idea is less objectionable, we should be able to pull it off.

Mark: When you were with Ornette during ’61 and ’62 did you do any recording?

Bobby: Yes, that’s where that picture comes from, Atlantic Studios, New York City, but they never released them.

Mark: You were with Ray Charles for a while, when was that?

Bobby: Oh, just for a little quicky there in ’58 when I first came out of the service. Just around Texas – something happened to one of the trumpet players while they were in Texas, and I knew everybody in the band, Fathead, LeRoy Cooper, so they gave me a call just to fill in for a while.

Mark: How did Fathead get his name?

Bobby: We had a band director who was a notorious disciplinarian. His name was James K. Miller but we called him Uncle Dud, and Uncle Dud had a band of about 60 kids – great big tough dudes, and he was a little guy but quite a disciplinarian. So he’d walk right up to some big guy and be looking at his belt and say, “Listen kid you get that horn over there and get your ass in that seat, and I don’t mean maybe….” He was a tough little cat, that’s what it took to run that band, but everybody loved him, he was one of those types of cats. And if you didn’t do something right he’d say, “No, no, no, Eb fathead!”, so he found himself calling David Newman fathead enough times for it to stick, so we all called him Fathead. I saw an article the other day on this trumpet player Leo Smith, and he’s from Mississippi too, from Leland, not far from where I grew up. We used to call that a little dump of a town because it was smaller than the town where I grew up. We used to go there, it wasn’t far, maybe 25 miles, you see we had a village square downtown, with a court house and sheriff, general store and all that. Most of these country towns didn’t even have that.

Mark: What some people would give to be there around then. Robert Johnson, Bukka White, Texas Alexander and all of those cats running all around that area.

Bobby: Yeah right, Sonny Boy Williamson used to broadcast down there, a flour company, Clabber Girl or Sunshine Flour, baking powder or something like that used to sponsor them. I think it came on in the middle of the day, (sings) “… the flour that blooms in your oven… “, (laughter) something like that.

Mark: Where’s this music going to go, anyway?

Bobby: I don’t know man. If I had the vision or whatever it takes to figure that out I’d be straight, I’d just sit back and watch it all take place. Like what’s going to happen with South Africa now? But nobody has that kind of vision. Man it takes some heavy duty contacts to see that, doesn’t it?

Bobby Bradford | September 17, 1976 | Photo by Mark Weber

Mark: Jazz has covered a lot of area since its inception. It’s all stretched, and looks to become a music of individuals.

Bobby: And there haven’t been too many fluke things to come along and just fizzle out, do you know what I mean? Just about everything has been explored for about a ten year period just like you’d expect. I see the free music as having run its course in a way, just like the bebop did, except that it didn’t quite get the exposure that the bebop did or have to contend with a much more powerful conventional force going at the same time. Where bebop didn’t have to deal with a much more powerful force of traditional jazz pushing it around. You see bebop ultimately became the music of the day, didn’t it? Whereas free music never reached that stage. By 1960 everybody that was a jazz player was a bebop player, or post-bebop player.

But the jazz community as a whole has never fully accepted the free form, there’s still a lot of cats who say that it is invalid, but with bebop after ten years nobody questioned it anymore, it was a music. At Charlie Parker’s death his music was accepted as a valid statement. But with free music we still have doubters, like Mingus, he’s a doubter, even though he flirts with it I still think he’s a doubter. There are times now where the heaviest of the free players might have doubts, because it’s such a more revolutionary move than going from swing to bebop, to go from bebop to the free. Because you don’t have as many things to hold on to and I’m sure there are times when the musicians, myself included, have had doubts about whether it was happening or not. But I always come back to my good sense that it’s a valid musical statement. It’s certainly representative of the times, it’s as much a reflection of America in that period as any other music has been. Nobody in his right mind could expect the music to stand still once the sixties came along.

There was all of this sub-cultural, drug movement, the youth movement, anti-America burn the flag, make some pants out of it, nobody could expect the music to still be going to-doo, to-doo, to-doo, you know what I mean? It had to change. As great as Charlie Parker was his music did not speak for the blacks, or yellows, or browns or anybody in America or the world in the sixties. It took a Trane or an Ornette Coleman to speak for the people of the sixties. What other time in the history of this country could we have a group like The Art Ensemble of Chicago expressing themselves the way they do? The Art Ensemble could only have occurred in the sixties or the seventies, there’s no other place in our musical history where they could have been a reasonable expression of anybody’s mind….

Bobby Bradford & George Sams |  February 13, 1981 | San Francisco |  Photo by Mark Weber

Mark: There were some pretty wild things going on with the early Dixieland, and New Orleans musics.

Bobby: Sure there was, but the premise was just the opposite. You can have two people doing the same thing and each of them going after it in a different way, because it’s another thing for him. They’re getting up there and all playing this line that seems to be free, but all of those cats are still playing the tune. No matter how wild they got. Now if you go back so far, the music was pretty wild, but it was a different kind. It’s like the difference between somebody who draws a stick doll, who can’t draw at all, who only senses one dimension, as opposed to someone like Picasso who will draw one and know better, but it’s still a stick doll though isn’t it? You know that Picasso’s expression is of another intent. That’s how that strikes me. Because I’ve heard some Dixieland cats who sounded as if they were playing free music. I’m thinking now of some of the stuff that I’ve heard in Ellington’s band, where it was so out that it was damn near free, but I think these cats all still related to the chord structure of the tune, the form of the tune and the harmony too. You know there’s such a thing as saying, “This is really far out”, but it’s far out with Bb as a point of reference. And if Bb is the chord, how far out can you get? – with something against Bb.

Now, what about something that is far out against air! You know what I mean? (laughter) That’s just the way it comes to my head, it doesn’t have to be worth ten cents, that’s just the way it strikes me. I see what Ornette did as only being able to come around at that point because that’s the only time that Black people in this country were in such a state that they could deal with what Ornette was doing. If Ornette had emerged earlier, white people in general… it was bad enough that they had to take that kind of music from a Black, but for that move to be made ten years earlier it would just have been unbelievable, I think they would have shot him. In other words if Marxism, if that whole concept had been created by some South African mulatto, it would have taken twenty years off of its life! Besides questioning it as a way of life or a political or social doctrine, they would have said, “Well, who said it?”, “Some South African whose daddy was a German and his mother was a Black”, “Oh well that invalidates it right there… “, see what I mean? So for Ornette to do what he did, Charlie Parker had to open the doorway by him being who he was, and he wasn’t easy to take.

I just see the world as being ready for Ornette at that point, he didn’t make them ready. I think the times were such that they could handle this music. Like the double quartet, man that’s heavy! You know “Free Jazz”, that’s heavy right now, think of it in 1960! I think they wanted to put Ornette on a big stick and just run him out of town, all of the rest of the jazz musicians thought “Oh my God! What are we gonna do with him? ” I think if there had been some secret way they could have all just had Ornette disappear, an atomizer you know – go downtown and put a guy’s name on a card and drop it into this machine and push the button and it would atomize him – he would have been out in space years ago. Lots of cats would have put his name in that machine and done that, (laughter).

Interview taped September 17, 1976 at Pasadena City College, California.

Benjamin, Lisa Tefo, & Bobby Bradford | June 16, 1983 | Photo by Mark Weber


  1. Mark Weber

    Even though there are about 5 other photos from that KPFK evening I just love this odd shot — John Breckow was legendary disk jockey for 25+ years on KPFK and Vangelisti is a “language poet” (I think that’s what they call themselves) of the late 60s era, who had a jazz show just before John’s on Friday nights, so this production was an over-lap of the the two shows. I call this shot, “The pause that refreshes.” Bobby was a frequent guest on JB’s radio shows.

  2. Mark Dresser

    Bravo, Mark!
    You captured Bradford in all of his brilliance!

    from Mark Dresser

  3. Mark Weber

    That photo of Bobby with his family always reminds me of the famous photo of Hank Williams sitting on a couch with his son who’s at the same age as Benjamin. And Hank Jr is holding a toy guitar. (Benjamin is now an attorney.)

  4. Alex Cline

    Mark, you and Bobby are simply two of the coolest rulers of the creative music realm. A deep bow of gratitude to you both. We are all lucky that you are both still around and contributing so wonderfully to our world.

  5. Richard Tabnik

    A fascinating and important interview. Thanks Mark, Bobby, and Klaus!

  6. Mark Weber

    For those of you who do not live in the U.S., there was a ubiquitous television commercial in the 1960s for 7-Up soda pop that informed us that it was “The pause that refreshes.”

    This phrase made it’s way into bar culture and the bonhomie of the drinking crowd.

    What a grand time for television commercials and promotions drummers.

    Around this same time Coca-Cola ran with “Things go better with Coke,” which also had that infectious jingle to go along with it.

  7. Rich Halley

    Great photos and interview. I played with Bobby two weeks ago and I’m struck by how little his appearence has changed (other than hair color). Long may he prosper!

  8. Connie Crothers

    I love this interview. It imparts such a direct contact with Bobby Bradford, his warmth, his insight, his humor, his profound seriousness. The photos are really wonderful.

  9. Joe Giardullo

    Many thanks for this wonderful interview. I treasure the bit of time I spent on the bandstand with him, and this interview is pure gold.

  10. Chuck Nessa

    Nice to read the interview again – I still have the magazine somewhere. Thanks for your valuable work.

  11. Rob Wallace

    As with the other folks who have commented, I thank you for posting this. Having had the opportunity to chat a bit with maestro Bradford I know he continues to be a genuinely amazing human being, not to mention one of our most under-acknowledged players and teachers. Here’s to the hidden history of “West Coast Jazz”!

  12. Larry Blood

    Wonderful interview + photos. Bobby clearly deserves more recognition, and this can only help!

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