David Baker

1931 - 2016


David Baker (1931-2016)He graduated from Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis before attending Indiana University, earning a Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1953 and a Master of Music Education degree in 1954. He studied with a wide range of master teachers, performers, and composers, including Thomas Beversdorf, Bobby Brookmeyer, Bernard Heiden, J. J. Johnson, George Russell, William Russo, Gunther Schuller, and Janos Starker, among others. Originally a gifted trombonist, he switched to the cello after sustaining jaw injuries in a car accident. He began his teaching career at Missouri’s Lincoln University in 1955. David was a regular on the thriving Indianapolis jazz scene of the era—especially on its historic Indiana Avenue—with the likes of fellow jazz giants Jimmy Coe, Slide Hampton, Freddie Hubbard, J. J. Johnson, Wes Montgomery, Larry Ridley, and David Young. They are all included in the “Jazz Masters of Indiana Avenue” mural on Capitol Avenue in Indianapolis. Top in his field in several disciplines, David taught and performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. He co-founded the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and served as its conductor and musical and artistic director from 1990 to 2012, becoming maestro emeritus on December 1, 2012. As a composer, David was commissioned by more than 100 individuals and ensembles, including Josef Gingold, Harvey Phillips, Ruggiero Ricci, Janos Starker, Beaux Arts Trio, New York Philharmonic, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Fisk Jubilee Singers, Louisville Orchestra, Ohio Chamber Orchestra, Audubon String Quartet, and International Horn Society. His compositions, tallying over 2,000 in number, range from jazz pieces and symphonic works, to chamber music and film scores. A dedicated music educator as well as composer and performer, David’s involvement in music organizations included membership on the National Council on the Arts; board positions for the American Symphony Orchestra League, Chamber Music America, Arts Midwest, and the Afro-American Bicentennial Hall of Fame/Museum; and past chairmanships of the Jazz Advisory Panel to the Kennedy Center and the Jazz/Folk/Ethnic Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts. He was past president and past vice president of the International Association for Jazz Education, past president of the National Jazz Service Organization, and senior consultant for music programs for the Smithsonian Institution. He served six times on the Pulitzer Prize Music Jury. David’s prolific body of work includes more than 65 recordings, 70 books, and 400 articles.

(source: http://blogs.music.indiana.edu/david-baker/https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/30/arts/music/david-baker-who-helped-bring-jazz-studies-into-the-academy-dies-at-84.html)