Leah Gough Cooper
Alto and Soprano Saxophonist, Composer/Arranger
Leah won an international scholarship in 2005 when she was 16 to attend the world-famous Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA. She has studied with such jazz icons as Jerry Bergonzi, Ran Blake, George Garzone, Joe Lovano, Miguel Zenon, Dave Samuels, Kenwood Dennard and Tiger Okoshi. Leah graduated from Berklee in May 2009 and graduated from the New England Conservatory with a Masters in Jazz Performance in May 2011. She currently leads her own group, Human Equivalent, and participates in various projects in New York, NY. Before moving to the USA, Leah was a member of the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland, and the Dumfries Youth Jazz Orchestra, Scotland UK.
In 2006 she co-led the group Hemato, comprised of 5 horns and rhythm section, which played at that year’s Glasgow International Jazz Festival, performing her original compositions and garnering favourable reviews. That same summer, she was invited to play at the private reception for the re-opening of the Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow.
Having heard Leah play at the 2006 Lockerbie Jazz Festival, Humphrey Lyttelton played one of her tracks recorded at a recital at Berklee on his BBC Radio 2 show The Best of Jazz.
In 2007 Leah was a finalist at the BBC Radio Scotland Young Jazz Musician of the Year, the only girl in the whole competition. Placed a very close second, the judges awarded Leah a special commendation, and reviewers were impressed. As a result, Leah’s compositions and recordings have been getting regular airplay on BBC Radio Scotland’s The Jazz House. That summer, Leah decided to form her own band and go all out and test the waters with a Fusion Jazz project ‘Human Equivalent’. Interest from Scotland got them regular Edinburgh gigs, plus dates at the Islay and Lockerbie Jazz Festivals, culminating in an appearance at the 2008 Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival and the Fettes Jazz Festival on the Edinburgh Fringe. They have continued to build their reputation and youthful fan base, showing Leah to be a strong front-liner and band-leader, appealing to a wide array of listeners.
At 19, Leah was invited to join the Danilo Perez Big Band to play and record a live New Year’s Eve performance for National Public Radio’s Toast of the Nation, an event broadcast throughout the United States and the US Forces’ Radio Network each year. In March 2008, Leah was asked to play in a clinic with Parliament bassist Bootsy Collins, for Berklee. A month later, she was invited to play in a concert with New York pianist, Vijay Iyer, and later that month with trombone legend Fred Wesley in a tribute to James Brown.
In June 2008 Leah toured Aruba and Venezuela with a group made up of colleagues from Boston and renowned Peruvian electric bass player Oscar Stagnaro, including appearances at the Naguanagua International Jazz Festival, Valencia, and the famous Juan Sebastian Bar, Caracas. In September she returned to Aruba for a week of appearances with a variety of groups at the Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival.
In the autumn of 2008 Leah reformed ‘Human Equivalent’ in the U.S. with Alan Benzie (piano/keys), Patrick Kunka (drums), Serghio Jansen (electric guitar), and Martin Nessi (electric bass), with a recital and cafe show in the Fall, and a recital at the Berklee Performance Center in February 2009, and recording the album ‘Future Pop’ in New York in April 2009. This Human Equivalent line-up appeared at the London International Jazz Festival in November 2009.
Leah was invited to form a special one-off 8-piece ‘Human Equivalent East’ for the Chiayi International Band Festival, Taiwan, where they played three concerts to large enthusiastic audiences December 2009 through January 2010.
Leah graduated from Berklee College of Music in May 2009, and received a scholarship for a two-year Masters in Jazz Performance at the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA, graduating in May 2011.