I can’t see myself doing anything else in this life except playing music.

Mel Lewis

As we enter Jazz Appreciation Month, we’re going to meet another member of the CJO! This week, the spotlight is on drummer Jim Rupp!

Q&A with Jim Rupp

How long have you been with the CJO?

I subbed in the band several times over the years, but I’ve been full time for 8-9 years.

What is your favorite thing about performing with the CJO?

I love the creative innovative music that the guys write, and I love making music with my friends!!

What has been your favorite concert with the CJO?

Hmmm……  A tough question….  the “Love Supreme” concert with Joe [Lovano] at the Bop Stop was special, as was the live recording there where Jack Schantz and Sean Jones traded choruses. Two world class trumpet players going at it!

What was your introduction to jazz?

My high school band director (Joe Micciche, Glenwood HS, Canton) took us to Moonlight Ballroom to hear the Basie Band, and I stood right in front of the stage and was floored. I knew then and there that I wanted to do THAT! Years later, I played with the band for a few days while traveling with jazz singer Diane Schuur. What a treat!

Why did you choose the instrument that you play?

Drums are very physical, and the dynamic range is so broad that they just reached out and grabbed me. As the drummer you’re the quarterback, and I enjoyed the excitement that playing the drums brought.

Who are your top musical influences?

In big band drummers it would be Sonny Payne, Mel Lewis, John Von Ohlen. Small group drummers would be Philly Joe Jones, Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, Elvin Jones, Brian Blade, and about 1,000 others. That’s what makes this music so much fun…. all the variety of great players!

What is your guilty pleasure music?

I’m not sure I feel guilty about it, but I love James Taylor.

Which jazz musician would you most like to have a beer with, and why?

Louis Armstrong, as he was such a launching pad for everything, and he seemed like such an amazing personality.

What is your favorite jazz album?

I can’t name one.

In big bands: Sinatra/Basie Live at the Sands; Thad Jones, Mel Lewis Live at Village Vanguard; and Woody Herman 1963.

Small groups: Miles, Seven Steps to Heaven; Tommy Flanagan, Jazz Poet; Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong; and Keith Jarrett Standards.

Why do you think jazz should be taught in schools?

Jazz is America’s contribution to the arts, and it allows such creative freedom. Music, and especially jazz, links the creative and logical sides of the brain, and what a better way to develop future thinkers and citizens.

What are any other groups you are a part of?

I do the Cleveland POPS (as do several of the other guys) and I very much enjoy that. As well as that I (and all the rest of the band) do a lot of freelance work.


And we want to celebrate by appreciating YOU, our fans, at the end of the month!

Email us at: Theresa@clevelandjazz.org by Monday, April 19th, and tell us what you love about jazz!

  • What does jazz mean to YOU?
  • Who are your favorite artists, albums, songs?
  • When did you first hear/experience the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra?
  • What’s been your favorite CJO show?

We would LOVE to hear from you! It’s all about sharing the love of jazz!