JESSIE ALLEN COOPER -- BIOGRAPHY
Multi-ethnic, world recording artist, Jessie Allen Cooper, has been producing his own unique brand of music since the early l980s. Although his studies have included most musical genres -- classical, jazz, rock, blues -- he has chosen to forge a distinctive personality, which has become evident in all of his work since his l984 debut, "Heaven Sent."
Cooper's journey began on March 23, l954, when he was born to Lucille and Clair Cooper, the oldest of three brothers. His father died when Jessie was l3 , and he feels that not having a strong father figure helped him develop his artistic persona.
"My brother and I were really into music at a young age," Cooper says. "We both had paper routes and every penny we made was spent on the latest 45 rpm record."
At the age of l5, Jessie realized that music was going to be the main focus of his life. He started on harmonica, after being inspired by the legendary John Mayall, followed by a passion for the saxophone. He deepened his study of jazz improvisation and composition at Western Washington State University.
A highly unique facet of Cooper's music is his early concern with the environment. To him, it seemed only natural that the sounds of nature be incorporated into his composing. Cooper feels that the pace of our lives and the size of our cities have caused a lot of people to lose touch with the environment. He says: "I've made it one of my objectives to capture environmental soundscapes and blend them into my compositions to create highly visual music."
Right from his very first recording, "Heaven Sent" , it was apparent that Jessie Allen Cooper had a style all his own. Utilizing the environmental sounds he heard around him, he created such masterpieces as "MorningTide," "In The Night," "By The Ocean," as track titles for that album.
For the l987 release, "Soft Wave" (Narada), he takes his concept further -- "Not just the environmental sounds themselves," Cooper says, "but polished melodic music along with them." His l993 follow-up, "Moment in Time," is yet another step forward in Cooper's remarkable musical life- journey. Here, in addition to spotlighting some of the key musicians from his own band, several notable guest instrumentalists were featured: the Rippingtons' guitarist, Russ Freeman; Brazilian guitarist Ricardo Silvera; Japanese koto player, Osamu Kitajima; and shakuhachi flutist Masakazu Yoshizawa.
The year 200l brought two new works to life: "Sound of Feelings," an audio sound track for Dr. Lucia Capacchione's book, "Living With Feeling: The Art of Emotional Expression," on which Cooper not only plays but is the composer or co-composer of all the music, and produced and arranged the entire work.
His most recent contribution is the ground-breaking work,
"9-ll-200l (The First Four Days)", conceived in the four days following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Bringing together a band of faithful accompanists, plus two female vocalists, the suite has a sense of a dual reality -- east meets west and destruction meets healing.
Such in the innovative nature of this multi-faceted artist, wearing his several hats as comfortably as his trademark beret fits onto his ever-busy head.