On Sunday, September 29, 2019, at the Westerbeck Recital Hall on the campus of Pasadena City College, 175 people were in attendance for a very special musical event in celebration of the Jackie Robinson Centennial. Included was the world premiere of Stealin’ Home, Bobby Bradford’s tribute to Jackie Robinson, commissioned by the Baseball Reliquary. A renowned jazz musician, bandleader, and composer, Bradford is also noted for his long career as an educator, teaching jazz history and improvisation for 33 years at Pasadena City College, the same school where Jackie Robinson starred in four sports from 1937-1939 (then known as Pasadena Junior College). Bradford’s jazz suite was performed by an ensemble featuring Bobby Bradford (cornet), Vinny Golia (woodwinds), Chuck Manning (tenor saxophone), William Roper (tuba), Don Preston (piano), Henry Franklin (bass), and Tina Raymond (drums).
Singer/songwriter Byron Motley opened the program with a collection of songs reflecting Jackie Robinson’s historic debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 through the emergence of the artistry of Nat King Cole. The performance was presented in a multi-media format utilizing video clips, slides, and interview sound bites from a forthcoming documentary about the Negro Leagues produced by Motley, adding a unique and emotional element that further connected the audience with this history and those who created it. Accompanying Motley was Ron Pedley (piano), Kevin O’Neal (bass), and Randy Drake (drums).