Member since 2009.
Home: Leavenworth, KS
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James Cooper is an English professor, a poet, and a devoted fan of jazz.
Although my father had introduced me to Scott Joplin and Dave Brubeck when I was growing up, I began listening to jazz more seriously in 1972, beginning with Frank Zappa's Waka/Jawaka. The rock music I had been listening to as a teen no longer held much interest, having tired of the lyrics that were riddled with cliches and that paled next to the poetry I was studying in college. In my own reading, I found Kerouac’s descriptions of jazz in On the Road and The Dharma Bums fascinating and wanted to hear some of that music. Through trial and error during the next few years, I began discovering Miles Davis (Big Fun), Michal Urbaniak, Urszula Dudziak, Zbigniew Namyslowski, Jean-Luc Ponty, and the musicians on the ECM label, such as Jan Garbarek, Eberhard Weber, Gary Burton, and Ralph Towner. After about fifteen or sixteen years as an auto-didact, I discovered the Rolling Stone Guide to Jazz and began working at darning those holes in my jazz education by listening to John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Dexter Gordon, Jackie McLean, Joe Henderson, and Art Pepper. Until about three or four years ago, I took less interest in discovering those younger jazz musicians and contented myself, to a large extent, with the music of 1958-1963. That outlook has changed, thanks to a few websites on the Internet, including this one, and I'm now happy to have discovered the work of musicians like Wolfert Brederode, Trygve Seim, Mathias Eick, Jacob Young, Froy Aagre, and Brad Mehldau. From having heard my jazz CD's since he was very young, my seventeen-year-old has been playing the alto saxophone for seven years now, gets private tutoring from Chris Burnett, and plays in his high school jazz band.