Biography

Jazz

Mark Andrew Cook is an active composer and performer.  Although trained as a classical trumpet player under the tutelage of Donald R. Tison (Principal Emeritus, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra), he is now primarily regarded as a Jazz pianist.

 

As pianist for the SU Faculty Jazz group, he performed frequently with bassist David Marsh and drummer Ronnie Shaw, both of whom carry international reputations as the rhythm section “backbone” for Cook, Dixson, and Young  (the Three Mo’ Tenors).

He leads/co-leads various configurations of his own groups, Set Theory and the Mark Andrew Cook Jazz Group. The CD, Prime Form, displays the virtuosity of the late Chris Vadala (saxophones and woodwinds), Steve Zerlin, (acoustic bass)  Spyro Gyra’s bassist Scott Ambush, and drummer/co-leader the late Marty Knepp.  Set Theory/Prime Form is available on iTunes, cdbaby, and amazon.com

His latest release, Mark Andrew Cook Jazz Group: Live at St. John's, is also available from iTunes, Spotify, CDBaby and a host of other outlets

Dr. Cook is the pianist for the Mike Kamuf Little Big Band.  Trumpeter Mike Kamuf is a wonderfully talented arranger and composer.  This group showcases Mike’s great writing and features some wonderful players including saxophonists Paul White (himself a talented arranger and composer serving with the US Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors), Leigh Pilzer (of Diva), Jeff Boone, Tim Powell (Director of Jazz Studies, UMCP), Dr. Jim Badolato (“Dr. Bad”!), trombonist Charley Dougherty, bassist John Leonard, and drummers Todd Harrison, Chris Allen, Ronnie Shaw, and the late Marty Knepp.

He was featured frequently as the pianist and “sideman” for woodwind virtuoso Chris Vadala, who is of international repute. He performed on Chris’s CD Out of the Shadows. He also has writing and arranging credits.

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Dr. Cook is the pianist and keyboardist (and occasionally soundman!) for Dave Detwiler's White House Band. Dave is an astounding trumpet player, having served in The US Army Band (Pershing's Own), Lead Trumpet and Jazz Chair for The Army Blues, and now performs as Principal Trumpet and/or section player for The National Symphony Pops, A Capitol Fourth, The American Pops Orchestra, and a host of others.

​Dr. Cook considers it his privilege to have performed with other equally wonderful musicians including the great trumpeter Vaughn Nark, Mike Crotty and Deater O’Niell, the late, great saxophonist Tim Eyermann’s East Coast Offering, Vocalist Darden Purcell (Director for Jazz Studies, George Mason University), Rachel Fleming (yes, THAT Rachel Fleming...), Dallas Smith (bassist and formerly NCOIC, The Army Blues), Pete Barenbregge (woodwind artist and formerly NCOIC of the USAF Airmen of Note), Leigh Pilzer, Scott Ambush (bassist for Spyro Gyra), Jamey Aebersold, Rufus Ried, Keith Kilgo (of Blackbyrds and BET fame), Drummer Coco Roussell (Happy the Man), bassist Tom Williams, drummer Frank Russo, Grady Tate, The Frankie Condon Orchestra (recording credits), Bob James (as strange as that may seem!), Charlie Daniels (as even stranger as THAT may seem), the legendary Bill Potts...

 

...and exactly four choruses of the Blues with the great Al Cohn!

[Special mention must be given to Bill.  Bill was a mentor and a friend.  He gave me many opportunities, most of which were undeserved at the time. He recognized things in me that I was unaware of myself and never hesitated to give of his time and his friendship.]

Whilst Director of the Shepherd University Jazz Ensemble, Dr. Cook led the Band on a tour of the UK in 2005.  The photograph below is that iteration of the band. Most have gone one to be professional Musicians with advanced degrees (at least three doctorates and ten Master's at this writing), one a serving member of the Clergy, one a Music Director for a Church with over 3000 Parishioners, outstanding Composers, serving members of the Armed Forces and National Guard Bands, one the Librarian for the Cosmos Club (formerly special collections Librarian at Catholic University), superb Instrumental Music Teachers, as well as International teachers in Italy, the PRC and Taiwan, First-Call Nashville Songwriters and Composers, Community Leaders, Performing Artists, and Aesthetes. Four have returned to Shepherd at various times up to and including the present as Adjunct Professors.  I am very proud of these people and equally proud of those who followed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Cook has performed at innumerable venues including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Eisenhower Theater, Millenium Stage, and special events), The National Gallery of Art, The Hirschorn Gallery, The United States Capitol, The Maryland State Capitol, The Virginia State Capitol, The Phillips Collection, The Armand Hammer Auditorium of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Strathmore Hall for the Performing Arts, Blues Alley, Bethesda Blues and Jazz, The New State Theater, Bohemian Caverns, HR57, The 9:30 Club (opening for Van Zant and also for Joe Strummer), Charlie Byrd’s, Ethel Ennis’ Supper Club, Cape May Jazz Festival, the Berks Jazz Festival, Vail (CO) Arts Festival, New York’s Roseland Ballroom, many college and university events, and countless low dives and upholstered toilets.

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Allow me a little gratuitous bragging.  When a member of Local 161-710, I often played Performance Trust Fund concerts ("Green Sheet gigs"), usually with Chris Vadala, (later, a few occasions with Vaughn Nark or The Frankie Condon Orchestra).

 

Long ago, various iterations of the Vadala group initiated a series of pre-concert (NSO) Jazz Concerts, beneath the bronze Robert Berks statue of JFK.  These were so successful and so well-received, they eventually evolved into what is now known as The Millennium Stage concert series.