For years I have been using Dr. David Baker’s books in my composition and jazz courses to help explain key concepts. Dr. Baker had a way of explaining ideas that was simple and direct as opposed to many of the other books I used that were too abstract and not concise.
My teachers used Dr. Baker’s books as well and he has had a distinct impact on my growth as a performer and a composer. I’ve seen him numerous times over the years at IAJE (International Association of Jazz Education) conferences but I only formally met him once when I visited the University of Indiana while attending a recital of a friend of mine. I was fortunate to sit in on one of his classes and hear him explain some of his approaches first hand.
Having written over 2,000 compositions including commissioned pieces for the New York Philharmonic and the Louisville Symphony, he was also nominated for the 1973 Pulitzer Prize and a 1979 Grammy.
Dr. Baker received a jaw injury early in his career as a trombonist that forced him to switch to the cello and to focus on composing. He studied with George Russell and Gunther Schuller and has taught numerous luminaries in jazz and jazz education. Some of his students include, Michael and Randy Brecker, Jamey Aebersold and Chris Botti.
Dr. Baker passed earlier today 3-26-2016 at the age of 84.