In Loving Memory Roderick D. “RJ” Jones 1961-2010
In 2003, Roderick Jones (“RJ” to friends and family) went to his childhood friend and fellow Purche Avenue Elementary School alum, then-Gardena City Council member and now State Assembly Member Steven Bradford with an idea. “Hey Bradford, what about a jazz festival for Gardena?” A city both men had grown up in. A city both men loved.
With passion, planning and lots of hard work from all those involved, the two friends moved forward with their vision of a first class event, one worthy of the appreciation and admiration they shared for the City of Opportunity.
In 2003, Gardena hosted its first annual Jazz Festival showcasing world renown jazz artists. It was an incredible success and a wonderful tradition was born.
Over the years, RJ would continue to work with Assembly Member Bradford, serving an instrumental role in his many campaigns as well as being appointed to the Gardena Rent Mediation Board and serving as the city’s Parks and Recreation Commissioner. RJ’s seemingly endless number of friends and loved ones enjoyed his generosity and charisma as he “hosted” the VIP section of the jazz festival for many years. For RJ, seeing the realization of his vision was an incredible gift that he enjoyed to the fullest. As a life-long jazz aficionado, RJ took great pleasure seeing such artists as Barbara Morrison, Patrice Rushen, Paul Jackson, Jr., Hiroshima, Michael Franks and many more come to the park where he had played as a child, now filled with thousands of fellow music fans.
Sadly, RJ passed away in November 2010 after a long and valiant fight that saw his health, but never his spirit, fail. But his legacy lives on in the lives of his many, many friends and family members who will always remember and cherish their memories of a truly incredible man. Part of that legacy is the Gardena Jazz Festival which continues every August at Rowley Park. And another part of that legacy is now the Roderick D. Jones Foundation which supports music education, scholarships and performing opportunities to up and coming young jazz musicians in the greater Los Angeles area.
Our Mission Our goal is simple. The RDJ Foundation, through monetary awards and opportunities to meet and perform with working professional musicians, wishes to provide a platform to support and nurture our up and coming young musical artists.