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Professor Matt Cooper
May 4, 2015
LA GRANDE, Ore. (EOU) – An enthusiastic and comprehensive review of Matt Cooper’s book, “Duke Ellington as Pianist: A Study of Styles” (The College Music Society, 2013) appears in the June 2015 issue of “Notes: the Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association.”
The review was written by Mark Gridley, a respected jazz scholar and author of one of the most widely used jazz history texts in existence. Cooper is a pianist and professor of music at Eastern Oregon University. His volume represents the first book-length study devoted exclusively to Ellington as a pianist.
“Duke Ellington as Pianist”
“For listeners who have loved the marvelous sounds that Ellington extracted from the keyboard, yet attributed them merely to magic, Cooper has succeeded in cracking Ellington’s code,” Gridley writes in the review. Regarding the biographical chapter, Gridley states “It is the best short summary of Ellington’s entire career that I have ever seen.”
In his consideration of both representative and landmark recorded performances, Cooper reports the views of a host of authorities and provides original commentary. He identifies three practices in Ellington’s piano work: an early foundational stride style, a style typical of his swing maturity and an atypical, post-bop / modern style. Cooper argues that all three “existed side by side from the 1940’s (or perhaps earlier) until the end of his career.”
Cooper earned further distinction as an Ellington scholar as a keynote speaker and performer at the International Duke Ellington Conference in Amsterdam in 2014. He was also a presenter and performer at the International Duke Ellington Conference in Woking, England in 2012.
For more on Cooper’s book, visit The College Music Society website.
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