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Lansing JazzFest Artist Feature: Sam Copperman Trio

Photo: Image by Photo Courtesy of Lansing JazzFest

Lansing JazzFest Artist Feature: Sam Copperman Trio

By Stefanie Pohl. CREATED Aug 1, 2013

Sam Copperman is a California native, but was drawn to mid-Michigan thanks to well-known bassist Rodney Whitaker. Whitaker held a jazz camp in California, and the opportunity to study jazz with the fellow bassist brought Copperman to East Lansing in 2008. He graduated in 2012, earning a bachelor's degree in jazz studies.

It was at Michigan State that Sam Copperman met guitarist Matt LoRusso and drummer Judson Branam IV, who make up the Sam Copperman Trio. These three young jazz artists also make up the rhythm section for the Peter Nelson Quartet, but will be playing as the trio at Lansing JazzFest this Saturday, August 3rd beginning at 2:00pm on the South Main Stage.

We spoke with Sam Copperman about the jazz studies program at Michigan State, and what the future holds.

Stefanie Pohl: What drew you to Michigan State and the Lansing area from California?

Sam Copperman: The jazz program, but more specifically after meeting Rodney Whitaker. He held a jazz camp in California that I attended when I was in high school, and I met him there. When I was applying to colleges, I made sure to apply to MSU. I decided I really wanted to study with him.

SP: How does it feel to be a part of this new wave of jazz music in the Lansing area, thanks to the programs at Michigan State?

SC: It feels good. With the trio, we play the rhythm section for the Peter Nelson Quartet. Peter is going to be moving to New York, so it'll be too bad we won't have him around anymore. We're looking forward to continue playing.

SP: How did the trio form?

SC: We came together through Peter Nelson, that's really where the group started. We started playing gigs together and ended up playing elsewhere without him.

SP: What can people expect from your set at JazzFest?

SC: We're going to be playing some good tunes - a lot of jazz standards. We'll do a couple originals too, but it's going to be very straight-ahead jazz.

SP: For people looking to pursue jazz studies, what would you say to young people interested in the program at Michigan State?

SC: I would definitely recommend the program at Michigan State. Other than that, I recommend trying to get out and play as much as you can.

SP: What does the future hold? Do you have any recordings in the works?

SC: Not with the trio, but we do have a CD coming out with the Peter Nelson Quartet soon. We are having a release party at the Avenue Cafe August 7th, at 7:00pm. The three of us will be playing there with him and it is open to the public.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Sam Copperman Trio and CLICK HERE for more details on Lansing JazzFest.