BIO and REVIEWS
Jim Cooper has been playing the vibraphone for over 40 years, leading numerous groups and appearing as both soloist and sideman. He has performed with jazz artists Frank Wess, Milt Hinton, Marcus Belgrave, Ira Sullivan, Buddy de Franco and Jon Faddis and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble as well as many Chicago and West Michigan musicians.
Among the many performances Jim has appeared include The Chicago Jazz Festival, Sutton’s Bay Jazz Festival, Lansing Jazz Festival, Sedona Jazz on the Rocks, Grand Rapids Jazz Festival, The South Haven Jazz Festival, Paradise Valley Jazz Party (AZ), Chicago’s Millennium Park, Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase, Chicago’s Green Mill, Winter's Jazz Club, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge in Detroit as well as concerts and clubs in Cleveland Ohio and Phoenix, Arizona.
As a Delmark Recording Artist in the early 90s, he released two CDs with jazz legend Ira Sullivan, Tough Town and Nutville. His other CDs include Itchin' to Groove, Trio Musik Chi-Town Sessions and his latest, Make Someone Happy. Release in 2018, Make Someone Happy it features an outstanding Chicago quartet with legendary multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan recorded live in 2000.
Jim’s awards include the National Endowment for the Arts grant, a WYCE-FM Jammie Award and ArtPrize's 2015 "Best Jazz Composition Award" for his song, “Third Circle.” His song, “Mallethead” was included in the 2019 book, The City Was Yellow, Chicago Jazz and Improvised Music 1980-2010.
In addition to teaching the History of Rock Music and Music Appreciation at Lake Michigan College in South Haven, Michigan, Jim gives clinics in vibes, jazz improvisation and other jazz topics. He endorses Musser vibes and Mike Balter mallets.
“. . . the more you listen, the more you appreciate the quiet but marked strength of Cooper’s style . . . he impresses with his stylistic range and the harmonically assured manner in which he draws his fellow players together.”
“Cooper is not just a strong soloist but an accomplished band-leader as well, he played with a degree of subtlety and craft one does not often encounter in the work of performers far better known than he.”
“. . . he’s no kid, judging by his mature lines . . . a warm vibist who goes for the heart.”
“There seems no limit to the range of Cooper’s moods and themes: he delves deeply into each tune, from bop to bossa, and maintains openness through his warm, unfettered lines.”
Cleveland (OH) Jazz Report
“. . . nothing tricky, nothing overly glossy, and nothing so sophisticated that it’s lost touch with the streets.”
“...your vibes are warm and true, the McCoy!”
“Cooper gave the evening the sort of depth of modern jazz knowledge you’d expect from a Chicagoan.”....masterful vibraphone playing..."
Grand Rapids Press
“When the mallets are in the hands of the exceptionally talented Jim Cooper, it’s an extraordinary and inspired performance vs. the mere ordinary!
Grand Rapids Jazz Society Newsletter
"An imaginative improviser, Cooper delivered quicksilver solos and propulsive rhythms..."
AZ Music Scene
“...a very good player of standards and originals...deserving wider
All Music Guide
"Cooper never missed a note, and never mind he plays traditional two-mallet style, the man is as smooth on the vibraphone as a baby's hand in the breeze."
Burlington (IA) Hawkeye