As a composer and arranger, Jack Cooper started his career in Los Angeles performing (saxes/woowinds) and writing/arranging with groups, such as "The Last Mile" and "The Dive." Both had outstanding reviews in clubs such as Madame Wongs East, Radio City, and Club 88. Jack studied composition and orchestration at Fullerton College and then at Califonia State University, Los Angeles with Tom Ranier, Bob Curnow, David Caffey, William Hill, Byong Young-Kim, Gerald Wilson, and David Baker. His chart writing for big band became well known by groups at the LA Jazz Workshop and reading bands at the Local 47 Union in Hollywood.
Jack moved to New York in 1989, and for the next six years he served in the sax section and as one of three staff writers for the U.S. Army "Jazz Knights." He also wrote and arranged music for tours (Northeast/Canada), recording sessions, and televison appearences. In addition, Jack also served as one of the staff writers and copyists for the West Point Concert Band. While in New York, he started doing other arrangments for local radio stations and local groups, such as Alma Latina, who played in clubs all the way from Manhattan to Albany. In 1992, Jack was hired as a staff arranger with Columbia Pictures Publishing/Belwin and has stayed in high demand, writing for Warner Brothers Publishing and now Alfred/Belwin Publishing. A big influence on his direction in music composition since this time came from Manny Albam, whom Jack studied with in New York.
Since his time in New York he has written music for jazz artists such as Peter Erskine, Marvin Stamm, Bobby Shew, Mulgrew Miller, Kathy Kosins, Gary Foster, and Christian McBride, as well as numerous others. His compositions and arrangements have been performed around the world and/or recorded by the Dallas Wind Symphony, the Westchester Jazz Orchestra, Ballet Memphis, the Woody Herman Orchestra, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, the Grand Junction Symphony, the Temple Symphony, the Dan McMillion Big Band, the Elision Sax Quartet, the Southwest Horns, the University of Northern Iowa Jazz Ensemble, the University of Texas Jazz Orchestra, the University of South Florida Jazz Ensembles, the Eastman Jazz Ensemble, The Summit Jazz Orchestra (Germany), the U.S. Army "Jazz Ambassadors," the U.S. Navy "Commodores," the Rob Parton Jazz Orchestra, the Cavini String Quartet, the Ceruit String Quartet, Alma Latina, DEKAJAZ, and the Brass 5. Dr. Cooper's telelvision music composition credits included "the Jenny Jones Show," "Hollywood Xtra," SOCAN, and news broadcasts in the Washington, D.C. area. Works of his have been commissioned and premiered for the World Saxophone Congress in Montreal, IAJE Conventions in Anaheim and New York, and the North Sea and Montreax Jazz Festivals. Other works composed in Texas and the Mid-South include music for theater productions, electo-acoustic music for modern dance companies, and music composed for the new jazz history text and CD-ROM for "Experiencing Jazz" (McGraw Hill).
Jack Cooper is the musical director and founder of the Jazz Orchestra of the Delta (since 1999). Their CD, "Big Band Reflections of Cole Porter," was released in June 2003 on the Summit Record Label and features music entirely composed and/or arranged by him. Reviews (numbering over 10) from the United States and Great Britian have been outstanding in regards to his writing:
"Jack Cooper's arrangements are hard hitting and intricate...and serve as near perfect vehicles for Cole Porter's compositions." - Steve Lowery, All Music Guide.
Other reviewers such as Herb Wong, Jack Bowers, and Bill Ellis have also been impressed with his writing and have compared him to, "that of an older, creative, and mature writed such as Don Sebesky."
Most recently he collaborated with award winning choreographer Mark Godden (choreographer for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company) to produce the commissioned ballet, "Two Jubilees" which was premiered in February of 2006 and performed by Ballet Company and a 19 piece jazz orchestra (in three movements). In August of 2009, he was the musical director and arranger for the Duke Ellington Musical Spectacular. Presented at the Barlett Performing Arts Center, this featured a full 35 piece studio orchestra and internationally renowned soloists Donald Brown and Joyce Cobb. Jack's CD, "The Chamber Wind Music of Jack Cooper" (Centaur Records 3027) was released in December of 2009 to wide critical acclaim.
Jack is the recipient of ASCAP, NEA, NEH, Mid-South Jazz Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and Meet the Composer grants. Most recently, he is the recipient of the 2010 University of Memphis Distinguished Achievment in the Creative Arts Award. Jack Cooper holds a BA in Music Education (clarinet) and an MA in Music Composition from California State University, Los Angeles. He studied with Richard Lawn and Karl Korte. Jack Cooper is a member of ASCAP, IAJE, and ASMAC. He is currently on faculty at the University of Memphis Scheidt School of Music and holds the position of Associate Professor of Jazz Studies and Composition. As a mentor, he is highly looked upon by the International Jazz Arranging Competition, which is sponsored by the Center for Jazz Composition at the University of South Florida.