Print Shortlink

Cooper, Sid (1918-18th July 2011)

Arranger and multi-reed instrumentalist born in Montreal, Canada, who was part of Tommy Dorsey’s outfit from 1944 to 1949 and was with the NBC staff orchestra for about the same amount of time.

A couple of his early recordings with Tommy Dorsey were The Carnegie Hall V-Disc Session, recorded in April 1944, and Well, Git It!, recorded on 14th November 1944 and 7th September 1945.  On 14th May 1945, he recorded “The Minor Goes Muggin'” with Tommy Dorsey and Duke Ellington, no less.  About four months later, Dorsey and company laid down “At the Fat Man’s”, arranged by Sid, which would later appear on the LP, Yes IndeedThe Post-War Era was a massive project that included tracks recorded between 31st January 1946 and 13th June 1950.  Again, Sid served as arranger, as he did for a pair of broadcasts at Cafi Rouge, Hotel Statler, in the fall of 1948, which eventually appeared on One Night Stand.  On all of the above recordings, Sid is credited with alto sax.

The Nat King Cole Trio employed him for his talents on clarinet and flute for “Lush Life”, recorded on 29th March 1949.  He is credited with saxes and woodwind on “Don’t Cry, Joe” and “It All Depends on You”, recorded by Frank Sinatra on 10th July 1949.  Two-and-a-half months later, he was blowing alto sax again, this time with Louis Armstrong & Billie Holiday on “My Sweet Hunk o’ Trash”, “Now or Never” and “You Can’t Lose a Broken Heart”.  He also made the cut on Nat King Cole’s Anthology, which comprised tracks recorded between 1949 and 1955.

On 31st March 1950, he was in the reeds section for Mel Torme’s recordings of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”, “Lullaby of the Leaves”, “The Piccolino” and “Skylark”.  He hooked up with the Norman Leyden Orchestra & Choir on 6th August 1951 for their recordings of “I’m Afraid”, “I Ran All the Way Home”, “Lemme Go” and “Wheel of Fortune”.  Sid was very busy with the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra in 1952 and 1953.  In July 1952, he is credited with saxes and woodwinds on “April in Paris”, backed with “Rain“.  Two months later, he was in the reeds section for “Midnight Sleighride”, backed with “When Hearts Are Young”.  On 3rd November 1952, again he is credited simply with reeds on “Nina Never Knew”, which eventually landed on The Best of Sauter-Finegan.  In case you think it was all work and no play, in February 1953, they recorded “Child’s Play”, and “Horse Play”.  In March 1953, they recorded “Dream Play”, “Holiday” and “Now That I’m in Love”.  Sid somehow found time to record some tracks with Sonny Stitt on the 18th day of the same month:  ” Hooke’s Tours (Stitt’s Tune)”, “If I Could Be with You One Hour Tonight”, “Sancho Panza” and “Sweet and Lovely”.  He multi-tasked big time during this session, juggling flute, piccolo and tenor sax duties.  Stitt must have liked his versatility:  He used him again on his album, Sonny Stitt Playing Arrangements from the Pen of Johnny Richards, recorded in May & July of the same year, and Sid also made the cut on The Chronological Sonny Stitt, 1951-1953.  Around the same time, he was moonlighting with Chris Connor on Chris and Chris Connor Sings Lullabys of Birdland:  The two albums included tracks recorded from 1953 to 1955.

In 1957, he hooked up with Miles Davis on Miles Ahead.  Miles liked to use Sid on clarinet and flute, as evidenced by his work on The CBS Years 1955-1985 and Cool, recorded between 1957 and 1968, and released on CD in 2004.  He was part of the Billy Taylor All Stars in the spring of 1958 for a TV special entitled The Subject is Jazz, Program 5:  Swing.  In 1961, Sid released Percussive Jazz, Vol. 2, which employed the services of Eddie Costa on vibraphone.  A year later, he found himself playing saxophone in the rarefied company of The Tonight Show band.

In 1979, he appeared on Frank Sinatra’s boxed set, Trilogy.  A year later, he quite rightly made the cut on Giants of Jazz.

In the 1990’s, he appeared on the soundtracks of the Woody Allen films, Bullets over Broadway, Everyone Says I Love You, and Mighty Aphrodite.  The CD era affords us many opportunities to hear Sid in all his digitized glory, on albums such as Louis Armstrong’s Gold and Highlights from His Decca Years, Miles Davis’s Original Album Classics, The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings of Miles Davis & Gil Evans, The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition, Svengali:  A Tribute to Gil Evans, Ella Fitzgerald’s Priceless Jazz Collection Vol. 2 and 75th Birthday Celebration, The Ultimate Collection of Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan’s Jazz Profiles.

He passed away in July 1911 in Lake Worth, Florida when he was 93 years old.

Frank Sinatra recordings
That’s What God Looks Like To Me
(Stan Irvin/Lan O’Kun)
Reprise RPS 49233 (XNY2101S) (US 45)
Theme from “New York, New York” (Fred Ebb/John Kander)
Reprise RPS49233 (XNY 2103 S) (US 45)

Here’s Duke Ellington’s “The Minor Goes Muggin'” on which Sid performs……