Cooper, Harry (R.)

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Cooper, Harry (R.)

Cooper, Harry (R.), jazz trumpeter; b. Lake Charles, La., 1903; d. Paris, France, 1961. He left La. as a child and moved with family to Kansas City, Mo. Where he attended Lincoln H.S. and took up trumpet in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Band. While at high school, Cooper gigged with Bennie Moten, George E. Lee, and bassist James Smith Leaving Kansas City in 1922, Cooper studied architecture at Hampton Inst, Va., and gigged with local bands. He then moved on to Baltimore, Md., and joined a band accompanying singer Virginia Listen, travelling with this group to N.Y. for their first recordings (OKeh). With augmented personnel (among the players was Prince Robinson), this band became the Seminole Syncopators (led by pianist Graham Jackson). They played a three-month residency at the 81 Theatre in Atlanta, Ga., then Cooper returned to N.Y. and joined Billy Fowler (late 1924). He gigged with Elmer Snowden, led own band at the Blackbottom Club, and worked with violinist Andrew Preer’s Cotton Club Orch. (1925). His quartet, Harry’s Happy Four, made recordings in 1925 and accompanied Sara Martin. Cooper was with Billy Fowler (1926), worked on and off with Duke Ellington in 1926, and led his own band before joining Leon Abbey. He worked in Europe with Leon Abbey from early 1928 and then joined Sam Wooding in late 1929. Cooper remained in Europe for the rest of his life, occasionally working for other leaders such as Hubert Rostaing, but usually leading his own bands. He recorded in Paris during the Nazi occupation.


“Blues 1943” (1943); “Nuages” (1943).

—John Chilton/Lewis Porter

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Cooper, Harry (R.)

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