×

Music Career on the Upbeat for This Entertaiment Lawyer

Handling the legal affairs of clients ranging from the Monkees to Katy Perry can leave little time for one’s own hobbies. But entertainment lawyer and part-time saxophone player Jay Cooper has found a way to syncopate his interests. When he isn’t toiling away at Greenberg Traurig’s Los Angeles office, Cooper plays alto sax with two bands, each comprised of attorneys: the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic and the Big Band Barristers, both founded by Gary Greene.

Cooper had gigged his way through college and law school as a studio musician backing the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Bobby Darin. His busy attorney’s schedule had forced him to take a 30-year break, but a couple of years ago, he found himself again bitten by the music bug, and joined the LALP.

Cooper had spent six years with the Los Angeles Philharmonic before his legal representation of fellow musicians led him to focus exclusively on his practice. It happened gradually, he says. “I’d be sitting next to someone in a recording session, and they’d say, ‘Hey man, I just got busted. Can you help me out?’ While you’re waiting for your case, they say, ‘Hey, can you read this record contract? Can you read this movie contract? Can you read this songwriting contract?’ ” Among those Cooper ultimately came to represent (no, they weren’t busted first) are such acts as Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, Jerry Seinfeld, Sheryl Crow and Nancy Wilson.
Cooper’s reinvigorated sax career has seen him perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with the LALP’s musically inclined lawyers, judges, law students and legal staff. Both the Lawyers Philharmonic and the Big Band Barristers also perform at events for bar associations and charities.
“I’m having a lot of fun,” Cooper says. “It’s very different than my day job. It’s energizing.”
Still, he’s concerned about the music business itself, and the lack of money from labels going toward artist development. “It took Bruce Springsteen three albums to make it,” he said. “If he had been dropped after the first album, would there ever have been a third album?”

More Scene

  • The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con

    The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con Parties and Activations

    Hollywood is heading down the California coast to San Diego because It’s time for 2019 Comic-Con International. The annual cosplay celebration officially kicks off tomorrow, July 18, with a preview happening tonight. Here, Variety gives you a guide to this year’s parties and activations. Make sure to check back for updates. Wednesday, July 17Amazon Prime [...]

  • Sir Elton John, David Furnish. Sir

    New Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala to be Held in the South of France

    Elton John and David Furnish are launching a new gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The two will host the inaugural A Midsummer Party benefit on July 24 in the south of France at the Johnny Pigozzi’s private estate, Villa Dorane, in Cap d’Antibes. A cocktail reception will be followed by dinner, a live [...]

  • Dwayne Johnson Idris Elba

    Dwayne Johnson: Idris Elba Nixed 'Black James Bond' Joke in 'Hobbs & Shaw'

    In the “Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw,” the movie’s villain Brixton, played by Idris Elba, spreads his arms out wide and declares “I’m black Superman.” It turns out that might not have been the original line. Dwayne Johnson tells Variety that Elba was first asked to proclaim he’s “black James Bond,” but the [...]

  • Matteo BocelliAmerican Icon Awards Gala, Inside,

    Top Music Manager Calls Out American Icon Awards for Failing to Pay Talent

    The centuries-old adage no good deed goes unpunished is a common refrain for star music manager Scott Rodger of late. Rodger, who represents Paul McCartney and Andrea Bocelli at Maverick, says his client Matteo Bocelli, the son of the opera star, was stiffed out of promised expense reimbursement by the American Icon Awards. The event, [...]

  • Mary Bailey Steve D'Angelo, Jim Belushi

    Cannabis Industry Tackles Justice Reform With 'Last Prisoner Project'

    Jim Belushi is standing two feet away in the backyard of his spacious Brentwood home, honking a harp like he’s a Blues Brother back in sweet home Chicago accompanied by noted reggae band Rebelution’s Eric Rachmany and Kyle Ahern, who provide a 12-bar shuffle. There’s the sweet smell of skunk — and success — hanging [...]

  • Dwayne Wade holds up the legend

    Dwyane Wade, Megan Rapinoe Win Big at 2019 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards

    The 2019 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports Awards was filled with incredible athletes, inspiring moments and — of course — a massive amount of slime. “I love the kids. I love the slime. I loved the games. I love seeing celebrities and athletes like become kids again. And it’s like my favorite thing,” Michael Strahan told [...]

  • Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani

    Dave Bautista Talks Representation in Hollywood and Defying Stereotypes with 'Stuber'

    Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani make an unlikely duo in “Stuber,” an R-rated comedy about a police officer and his Uber driver. But the two connected over the rare chance to star in the film as actors of Asian descent (Baustia is half-Filipino and Nanjiani is Pakistani). “I’ve been stereotyped for a couple different reasons [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content