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Bob Cooper

One of the great West Coast tenors, Bob Cooper made even the most complex solos sound swinging and accessible. "Coop" joined Stan Kenton's big band in 1945, and he was a fixture with several of the editions (including the Innovations Orchestra) through 1951; in 1947, he married Kenton's singer, June Christy.

After leaving Kenton, Cooper settled in Los Angeles, where he was a busy studio musician for the next four decades. He was a regular member of the Lighthouse All-Stars from 1952-1962, sometimes playing oboe and English horn (being the first strong jazz soloist on both of those instruments).

The cool-toned tenor (whose sound fit into the "Four Brothers" style) was on many records in the 1950s (including those of Shorty Rogers, Pete Rugolo, and June Christy), and continued working steadily in Los Angeles-area clubs up until his death.

He appears on records with the big bands of Frank Capp/Nat Pierce, Bob Florence, and the '80s version of the Lighthouse All-Stars; and participated in the 1991 Stan Kenton 50th-anniversary celebration. As a leader, Coop recorded for Capitol in the 1950s, Contemporary, Trend, Discovery, and Fresh Sound.


Extended Analysis

Bob Cooper: Four Classic Albums

Read "Bob Cooper: Four Classic Albums" reviewed by David Rickert

Bob Cooper was one of the greats of the fifties West Coast scene. He was a formidable improviser whose proficiency on multiple instruments made him highly sought after for studio work, and was also a talented arranger whose had plenty of work in the studio on both big band and small group recordings. However, he seldom recorded as a leader, and most of the sessions he did record have been out of print for a long time or never released ...

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