Discovering a love for jazz music while in high school, the Jacksonville, Florida native moved to New York City to attend The New School, where he studied with veteran jazz masters. That decision led to him becoming a student and mentee of former Count Basie sideman Benny Powell, also a trombonist. Under Powell’s tutelage Cooper’s career was kicked into gear with performances at local venues around NYC. Clark Terry too, was very instrumental in imparting invaluable information to Barry on playing jazz and the history of jazz music. Clark put together a band called The Young Titans, and invited Cooper to record on their CD in Bern, Switzerland and live DVD recording at NYC’s famed Birdland. While on tour with Clark’s band, Barry met members of the Count Basie Orchestra who were touring as well. Impressed with his personality and musical ability, the bandleader asked Barry to do a three-month stint with The Basie Band starting in the United States and ending in Japan. The tour proved to be a monumental opportunity; and consequently led to Cooper joining the band full-time at the close of their 2003 tour. In holding the same trombonist chair in the Basie Orchestra that Powell proudly held claim to several decades earlier, he notes the two share a special connection. Equally eager and driven, Cooper continues to perform with his Basie band mates.
Willing to teach