“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
JimCooper - vibes/marimba/xylophone/bells balafon
Dennis Carroll - bass
Xavier Breaker - drum
Jim Cooper has been playing the vibraphone for over 40 years, leading numerous groups and appearing as both soloist and sideman. Originally playing piano and drums, Jim started playing vibes as a college student. Over the years, he’s had the fortune of gigging with such outstanding musicians as Frank Wess, Milt Hinton, Marcus Belgrave, Ira Sullivan, Buddy de Franco, and Jon Faddis with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble.
Jim’s many performances include The Chicago Jazz Festival, Sutton’s Bay Jazz Festival, Lansing Jazz Festival, Grand Rapids Jazz Festival, West Michigan Jazz Society, Paradise Valley Jazz Party (AZ), Chicago’s Millennium Park, Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase, Chicago’s Green Mill, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge in Detroit and has recently been making the trek to New York City to sit in at Small’s Jazz Club and Fat Cat.
In the early 1990s, Cooper was a Delmark Recording Artist with Tough Town and Nutville, featuring the amazing multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan. Cooper received rave reviews, with Jazz Times calling him "a vibist who goes for the heart..."
Other recordings Jim recorded as a leader include Itchin To Groove and Chi-Town Sessions, both on his own Jazmyn Records label. Itchin’ To Groove features a great lineup of musicians from Michigan and includes his award-winning song, Third Circle. Chi-Town Sessions is a combination of various sessions Cooper recorded in the 1980s and features over fourteen exciting musicians.
In 2006, Cooper co-founded The Cooper, Hay, Van Lente Group, featuring drummer Mike Van Lente and the late pianist/composer Dave Hay. Their CD, Trio Musik, was nominated for 4 Jammie Awards in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Grand Rapids Press recognized Cooper’s command of the vibes, writing, “…his masterful vibraphone playing and the rhythmic interplay between band members make Trio Musik a special project.”
In 2014 he started playing with organist Jim Alfredson and recorded Dirty Fingers, a Tribute to Big John Patton which received a Jammie Award in 2014 from WYCE-FM.
For his appearance at Winter’s Jazz Club, Jim presents Jim Cooper and Mallet Madness. Based on the concept of total mallet percussion, it features Jim playing an assortment of percussion including vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, bells, balafon and more. Along with bass and drums, the trio’s music will include jazz standards, music from Cooper’s CDs, newer compositions and more surprises.