Jack Cooper

Professor of Jazz and Commercial Music

(901) 678-2547
SFPAC 2135
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Jack Cooper


  • D.M.A., Doctor of Musical Arts, University of Texas at Austin, 1999
  • M.A., Master of Arts, California State University, Los Angeles, 1989
  • B.A., Bachelor of Arts, California State University, Los Angeles, 1987 


Jack Cooper serves as Professor of Jazz Studies and Commercial Music at the University of Memphis Scheidt School of Music.

The Chicago Tribune's music critic Howard Reich named Jack Cooper's release "Mists: Charles Ives for Jazz Orchestra" (Planet Arts) one of the top ten jazz CDs for 2014. London Jazz News' critic Frank Griffith is quoted, "...(sic) has effectively woven these early 20th centuries Ivesian themes in very contemporary sounding excursions of creativity." Cooper is also the musical director for the 2015 and 2018 Origin Records releases “Time Within Itself” and “Origin Suite.”  The CDs garnered international acclaim; Polish jazz critic Andrzej Fikus writes, “'Time Within Itself’ owes its success largely to excellent arrangements by Jack Cooper, one of today's best jazz arrangers in the U.S. ... (sic), particularly in the layer of instrumentation. Cooper gives a masterful display here.”  

Jack Cooper currently serves as staff arranger for the Berlin Jazz Orchestra; he wrote and conducted all tracks for the 2021 album release, “Songs of Berlin” (GAM Music).  More recently, his music is heard with the BBB featuring Bernie Dresel (big band) “The Pugilist”  2021 release and the 2024 release “Love Never Changes” by the award-winning jazz group The Rudiment.  His arranging can also be heard on the most recent, 2023 release for multi-Grammy nominated recording artist Sean Ardoin (“Mosaic”).    

As a saxophonist and woodwind specialist, he has worked with numerous artists to include Macey Gray, Brian McKnight, Manhattan Transfer, the Temptations, Bob Newhart, Kenny Rogers, Glenn Campbell and many others. 

As an internationally recognized composer, arranger and music scholar, Cooper is featured in interviews on recent award-winning documentaries for the Arte, WDR and NDR television networks: ‘The Unanswered Ives’ (2019) and ‘Paul Dessau: Let’s Hope For The Best’  (2023).   

 He is the musical director and founder of the Mid-South-based Jazz Orchestra of the Delta. Their CD, "Big Band Reflections of Cole Porter" (Summit Records) was released in 2003 to international acclaim. He and the JOD collaborated with award-winning choreographer Mark Godden to produce the ballet "Two Jubilees," which premiered in February 2006.

In addition to working with the Berlin Jazz Orchestra, he also served as a staff arranger with the Young Voices of Brandenburg during 2015-16. He also served that year as Artist in residence and visiting professor at the SRH Hochschule der populären Künste in Berlin, Germany. More recently, he was honored as an invited composer/arranger in Residence for the Kunst Universität für Musik Graz, Austria (May 2017), Universidad El Bosque, Bogotá, Colombia (August 2018) and visiting lecturer with the Universität Erfurt, Germany (Summer semester 2022).

His television and media music writing credits include The Jenny Jones Show, Danish Radio 2 (DR P2), E! Entertainment shows, Access Hollywood, American Restoration, Deal or No Deal and Extra. His music has been featured at numerous venues worldwide, including the North Sea and Montreux Jazz Festivals. He was a staff arranger and clinician for Columbia Pictures Publishing, Warner Pros. and Alfred/Belwin Jazz Publications from 1992 - 2015. He is currently a staff arranger for Excelcia and Kendor Publishing.  UNC Jazz Press, ReallyGoodMusic.com, Increase Music, and Three-Two Music also publish his music.

He is widely known as a jazz educator and clinician conducting many All-State groups and clinics in Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Arizona, Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, California, Nevada, Florida, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and many others.

Cooper's chamber music can be heard on the CD recording of his compositions on Centaur Records, "The Chamber Wind Music of Jack Cooper" (Centaur 3027, released in 2010). Cooper's Saxophone Sonata from that release is highly regarded, belonging with "such landmark 'jazz/classical' pieces as the Phil Woods Sonata, on any recital or concert program that explores (both) these worlds." His chamber works have been played and premiered throughout the United States, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

Cooper was recently named as the University of Memphis Pearl Wales Professor of Music and awarded the 2020 Dean's Creative Achievement Award from the UofM College of Communication and Fine Arts. He was the 2010 recipient of the Distinguished Achievement in the Creative Arts Award from the UMAA. Cooper was chosen in 2003 as a nominee for the annual NARAS Premier Player Awards and awarded a $10,000 grant from the Aaron Copland Fund Recording Program that same year. He is the recipient of numerous ASCAP Composer awards since 1996. As a presenter, he has been honored as the keynote speaker for the Modern Language Association and the scholar and main presenter for four National Endowment for the Humanities series on American Music.