Jim Cooper

Let's Rock and Roll


Excited about teaching a class this fall for the first time, "The History of Rock" for Lake Michigan College.  Looking forward to re-exploring some of my favorite bands that I grew up hearing and emulating.

Sam "Pancho" Vera RIP


Sam Pancho Vera, jazz drummer, family man and inspiration to many musicians and non-musicians alike, passed away May 26, 2017 at age 83.  We love you Pancho and we'll be together again.

Bobby Hutcherson RIP


Bobby Hutcherson Jan 31, 1941 - Aug. 25, 2016


Bobby was my model when I was growing up playing vibes.  Seeing him live at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago was an magical experience.  He played there many times. The last time I saw him play was a Dizzy's in NYC with Cedar Walton.  He was playing mostly ballads and didn't play as many notes as he used to play but he made every note count.  What a musician!  The jazz world has lost a great player.  

Bobby and me at the Jazz Showcase, 2006.

Ludwig Announces New Website


Ludwig Announces New Website!

The Conn-Selmer Division of Education is excited to announce the launch of the newly designedmobile-friendly ludwig-drums.com website. This site provides a superior user experience while highlighting "The Most Famous Name On Drums." Designed for the modern percussionist, ludwig-drums.com features an updated portfolio of products and images for our comprehensive line of Ludwig and Ludwig-Musser percussion instruments, hardware, accessories, luggage and merchandise.

65th Birthday gig at the Jazz Showcase


Late in posting this but an across this photo from the Jazz Showcase in Chicago a few days before my 65th.

In the band was pianist Peter Sax, bassist Al Ehrich, drummer Jeff Stitely and saxist Jerry Dimuzio.  Thanks to the guys for making the gig.


Rusty Jones RIP


Photo:  Bill Klewitz

Dave Hay RIP


I regret to announced that Grand Rapids jazz pianist Dave Hay lost his battle with cancer on Tuesday, December 29th. Dave was a versatile piano, bass player and composer and performed anything from pop and funk to classical and avant-gard jazz.  We played together in the Cooper, Hay, Van Lente Group, (CHV), recorded a CD, Trio Musik and  over the years, could always rely on Dave to know just about any tune and play it from memory.  As a memberof CHV, Dave played both piano and left hand bass and didn’t need much encouragement to really “tear things up!” I’ll miss his sense of humor, his animated style of playing and of course, his creative musicianship.  Dave, we’ll miss you. Upward and onward, brother.


Jim Cooper

Jan. 30, 2015                                                                                                                                                        

Arizona Dreamin'


Jim recently performed in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area at the Musicians Union, Sacred Grounds and did a clinic on improvisation at Desert Mountain High School.


Desert Mountain High School Jazz Band, Michelle Irvin, Director

More photos coming

Jim Cooper Wins 2015 ArtPrize Award




Vibraphonist and composer Jim Cooper won the 2015 ArtPrize’s Critic’s Choice Award on October 7th for his song, Third Circle.  ArtPrize takes place in Grand Rapids, Michigan for three weeks every September and October.  Cooper was awarded  the $1000 prize which also includes five hours of free studio time. The Critic’s Choice Award was chosen and presented by WBLU-FMs Lazaro Vega.

The Critic’s Choice music category was first initiated this year as an addition to the popular vote award.  There were five categories of music. The award was presented at St.Cecilia Music Center in Grand Rapids which sponsors the music competition at ArtPrize.  

The ArtPrize winning song, Third Circle was recorded in 2004 on Jim’s Itchin’ To Groove CD.  Cooper explains, “Third Circle comes from the Urantia Book and refers to striving for intellectual, emotional and spiritual maturity.  With this attainment we not only improve ourselves to be the best we can be, but as a result, collectively, improve our world.

Other musicians that appear on Third Circle are Terry Lower on piano, Tom Lockwood on bass and Larry Ociltree on drums.








Lansing Jazz Fest


WE had a great time performing at the 2015 Lansing Jazz Festival.  Thanks to all the people that made it happen.  Here's a photo by Mark Ladensen.

Vibraphonist Joins Big Band


Hearld Palladium, St. Joseph, MI


Vibraphonist joins Big Band for St. Joe show


Posted: Thursday, August 27, 2015 6:00 am

By JEREMY D. BONFIGLIO - Sight & Sound Editor | 0 comments

ST. JOSEPH - Trumpet player Steven Reed wanted to invite vibraphonist Jim Cooper to sit in with his Lake Effect Jazz Big Band, there was just one problem - finding a repertoire that worked for both of them.

"I called Jim up and asked if he would be interested," Reed says. "He was but he had never played with a big band before. That's when we started talking about this Milt Jackson album I have at the house, and that's when we started putting it together."

That album is "Explosive: Milt Jackson Meets The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra," which features the vibraphonist front and center in a big band setting. When Cooper joins the Lake Effect Jazz Big Band on Saturday at the Box Factory for the Arts, he will be sitting front and center playing three of those Milt Jackson tunes and a whole lot more.

"The big band and vibraphone combination is kind of a rare thing and I'm glad we are keeping the tradition," Cooper says by phone from his home in Fennville. "Vibes can get swallowed up by a big band, but when you put them out front and feature them, it's really a great sound."

Cooper, who was born and raised in Chicago, started with drums and piano. He was exposed to mallet instruments such as the xylophone, marimba and vibraphone seeing concerts that featured Gary Burton and Jackson, and bought his first set of vibes during his junior year at Michigan State University.

Cooper played in the Billy Band, led by the late Billy Brimfield and Billy Perry and played his first big gig at the 1980 Chicago Jazz Festival.

Later, he teamed up with pianist/composer Bob Dogan, fresh off the road with the Buddy Rich band. The Jim Cooper/Bob Dogan Quintet became a mainstay in the Chicago jazz scene throughout the 1980s and early '90s. After meeting multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan, Cooper recorded two CDs on Delmark - "Tough Town" (1990) and "Nutville" (1991).

In 2005, he released "Itchin' To Groove" on his own Jazmyn Records, and The Cooper, Hay, Van Lente Group, which he led from 2007-11 released "Trio Musik" (2010). Delmark also re-released "Nutville" in 2010. His latest release is "Chi-Town Sessions," a straight-ahead jazz recording that features original compositions by Cooper, and others. One of those tunes, "Daytura," will be performed on Saturday.

"I got the title from the flower, which blooms at night and is very fragrant," Cooper says. "It kind of reminds me of a jazz musician, actually. I'm really excited about playing it in a combo format."

Cooper also will join the big band on three tunes off of "Explosive" - "Bag's Groove," a Jackson original; "Since I Fell For You," the standard by Woodrow Buddy Johnson; and "The Nearness Of You," written by Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington.

"They are amazing charts," Reed says. "They were arranged by John Clayton, who is the bass player in this Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. They are beautiful and bluesy and hot arrangements that feature the vibes."

In addition to Reed, the band includes saxophonists Andrea Gentry, Anne Jensen, Tim King, Christopher Keech, Jeff Bopp and Rob Funk; trombonists Cheryl Thomas, Carl Steffens, Mary Lynn Edwards, Tom Farrand and Brad Jensen; and trumpet players Steve Bizoe, Kevin Renfro, Sara Bopp and Tom Crowner. The rhythm section is keyboardist Kim McCavit, guitarist Dustin Lowe, bass player Doug Wegscheid, and percussionists Joe Trojan and Chuck Hartzell.

While Cooper will sit in during the second half of the concert, the first half of the program features a best-of program culled from pieces performed throughout Lake Effect Jazz's summer season.

Vocalist Michelle DeFrancesco Bythrow joins the band for Michael Bublé's "Sway," Natalie Cole's arrangement of "L-O-V-E," and Eric Maschwitz and Manning Sherwin's "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square."

"We'll also be doing tunes of Pat Matheney and a couple of Buddy Rich charts," Reed says. "We normally do outdoor concerts, but we're setting the Box Factory up like a jazz club. We don't have any jazz clubs here any more. It's cool to be able to play an indoor jazz concert especially with someone like Jim Cooper. We're excited about it."

Contact: jbonfiglio@TheHP.com, 932-0364, Twitter: @HPBonfiglio

If you go

What: Lake Effect Jazz Big Band featuring guest vibraphonist Jim Cooper

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Box Factory for the Arts, 1101 Broad St., St. Joseph

How much: $10, $8 for students and seniors, free for children 12 and younger

Contact: 983-3688 or www.boxfactoryforthearts.org

Artist info: www.lakeeffectjazz.org; www.jimcooper.net




Jim Cooper Wins 2014 Jammie Award


Jim Cooper performs at the 2014 Jammie Awards in Grand Rapids.  He

was on organist Jim Alfredson's CD, Dirty Fingers, A Tribute to Big John Patton.

Jim Cooper New Cd, Chi-Town Sessions



Jim Cooper recently performed at the Jazz showcase in Chicago to celebrate his new release Chi-Town Sessins on Jazmyn Records.

Jim Cooper, Bob Dogan, Dan Delorenzo, Robert Barry, Jerry DiMuzio, Phil Gratteau and Al Ehrich

Teaching at Northwestern U


I will be teaching jazz vibraphone at Northwestern University for the fall term 2012.  I am looking forward to meeting some of the percussion students there also.

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