The New Orleans Traditional Jazz Camp was founded by Leslie Cooper, Banu Gibson, and Anita Hemeter. Their love for the music inspired the idea for a camp to be held in New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. The camp project gained momentum when these three discovered they had the same passion to create such a camp. Currently the camp is run by Executive Director Banu Gibson and Production Director Leslie Cooper.
• To teach and perpetuate the musical style of early jazz music as it originated in New Orleans.
• To create a yearly musical event in New Orleans that will raise the level of musicianship and knowledge of early jazz.
• To expose traditional jazz to a larger audience.
• To attract musicians from around the world to New Orleans to learn traditional jazz.
Banu Gibson is a bandleader, vocalist, dancer, banjo/guitar player, director, choreographer, and manages her own record label, (Swing Out Records)
Starting her career as a singer/dancer in Miami Beach, Florida she moved to New York City to tour for three years with Your Father’s Mustache road band. She then moved to California to choreograph and perform at Disneyland in a 1920s revue called “The Class of ‘ 27”. She moved to New Orleans where in 1981, she formed her own band and began a steady ten years of French Quarter and hotel gigs while also traveling the world performing at Jazz Festivals and performing arts venues.
In 1988 Banu and her band expanded to perform symphony Pops Concerts. This includes over 80 performances with symphony orchestras from Portland Maine to Portland Oregon. Orchestras include the Boston Pops, the St. Louis Symphony, and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra in Oslo, Norway, to name a few.
The highlights of Banu’s career have been appearing on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, bringing in the millennium as the only guest artist of the Boston Pops, singing at the 2001 Playboy Jazz Festival, and singing with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl. She has appeared all over the world with her band and was the guest vocalist on both Wild Bill Davison European tour in 1986 and the World’s Greatest Jazz Band tour of Japan 1996. She has performed at the French Quarter Festival and New Orleans Jazz Fest since the 1980s.
In New Orleans she has been honored in 2009 by the New Orleans Preservation Resource Center for her contributions to music, was a New Orleans Magazine’s 2007 Jazz All Star and was featured in the 2010 New Orleans Magazine as “Top Female Achiever”, and appeared on the cover of OffBeat magazine’s for June 2015.
Leslie Cooper grew up a vocalist with jazz musicians for parents. She manages a Trad Jazz/Brass band comprised of High school students. She is director of a music education program called "Pass it On," and is a member of the Traditional Jazz Educators Network.
Leslie has assisted with music educational programs for students of all ages for the past 24 years. She is a board member for the Friends of the Jazz and Heritage School of Music and serves on the Education Committee of the American Federation of Musicians, local 174-496 New Orleans, Louisiana and is President of New Orleans Women in Music (NOWIM).