Itchin to Groove
Jim has been gaining recognition as one of the premier performers on his instrument, the vibraphone. Growing up in the Windy City, Cooper was influenced by the thriving Chicago music scene of blues, rock, rhythm and blues and jazz. This is Cooper's third CD as a leader and showcases his compositions and improvising skills. Born and raised in Chicago, Jim's approach to playing the vibes comes from his years as a drummer and pianist. First playing drums and piano in rock and roll and R&B bands as a teenager, Jim started playing the vibes as a college student. He played free-jazz in a southside basement with a group called the Chicago Jazz Workshop. The band practiced nightly on their improvising skills until the wee-small hours of the morning. Then, it was off to jam sessions, learning jazz standards, writing lead sheets of his favorite tunes and learning how to lead a band. Jim has been influenced by the three Bs: Bags, Bobby and Burton; the modern sounds of Bobby Hutcherson, the blues of Milt Jackson and the playing of Gary Burton. Cal Tjader became as later influence as well. Through the years Cooper has learned his craft and has 'grown into a most listenable improvisor.' Chicago Reader. Jim has performed with Ira Sullivan, Art Van Damme, Barrett Deems, the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra and Larry Vuckovich among others. He also performs with Michigan clarinetist Dave Bennett and his Tribute to Benny Goodman band. He has appeared several times at the Chicago Jazz Festival as well as Sutton's Bay, Allegan, Lansing and Idlewild Jazz Festivals and has played in clubs, concerts and sessions in Chicago, Kansas City, Grand Rapids, Phoenix, San Francisco, Denver, Toledo, Los Angeles and Boston. In addition popular tunes by Steve Allen and Burt Bacharach, it features original compositions by Cooper.