Bobby Bradford is a living time capsule of the 1950s-’60s West Coast and free jazz scenes

Bobby Bradford is one of the few living connections to Ornette Coleman

In many ways, jazz trumpeter Bobby Bradford came along at just the right time. In the late 1950s he learned the essence of “free jazz” from mentor Ornette Coleman, a leading innovator of the avant-garde approach. Also in his musical orbit were another free jazz legend, saxophonist John Coltrane, and two pioneers of West Coast, or “cool,” jazz: trumpeters Chet Baker and Miles Davis.
Bradford, who teaches “The History of Jazz” at Pasadena City College, discusses his time with Coleman and the 1960s Los Angeles jazz scene on Saturday at Beyond Baroque, in conversation with American Book Award-winning poet Will Alexander.

“The nucleus of the conversation we want to have is really about mining the wells of creativity in art, and that includes jazz and poetry,” said Beyond Baroque Assistant Director Quentin Ring.
At 81, Bradford is one of the few living connections to the legendary Coleman, who died in 2015. The improvised style created by Coleman and later mastered by Bradford and others shed what they considered to be the limitations of jazz, seeking a more spontaneous, untethered style of music. West Coast jazz, with its swing elements, often intersects with free jazz.

— Gary Walker

Bradford and Alexander speak at 8 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 17) at Beyond Baroque, 681 N. Venice Blvd., Venice. Tickets are $6 to $10. Call (310) 822-3006 or visit