Born 27 May 1948, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, Copland was a part of the vibrant music scene in Philadelphia as a saxophonist before going to New York where he met John Abercrombie and also played with Chico Hamilton, and others. He experimented with the electric alto but gradually became dissatisfied with the direction his music was taking and, leaving New York, quit playing the sax in order to study piano. He was gone for almost a decade but upon his return to the jazz world in the mid-80s his piano playing was a revelation, his own vividly original style firmly in place. As a sideman he played with Bob Belden, Jane Ira Bloom, Joe Lovano, Tim Hagans, James Moody, Wallace Roney and many others.
But his career as a sideman in the Apple was relatively short-lived; Copland began recording and touring in trio with Gary Peacock and Billy Hart (At Night/Sunnyside, Paradiso/Soul Note).
In the nineties, his reputation spread owing to three legendary recordings with the Savoy label, which put him on the road in an All-Star quintet (Randy Brecker, Bob Berg, and Dennis Chambers), and later in quartet with guitarist John Abercrombie, Drew Gress, and drummer Hart.