David Baker
by: Baheejah Crumbley
  • A performer, composer and educator
  • Born in Indianapolis on Dec. 21, 1931 and passed away in March 2016
  • Founded Indiana University’s jazz studies program in 1968
  • Played in the ensembles of Quincy Jones and George Russell
  • David Baker along with Gunther Schuller were the original artistic directors of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, established in 1990
  • Wrote many  jazz pieces for notable instrumentalists and ensembles including the cellist Janos Starker and the Fisk Jubilee Singers
  • Recognition:
    • Named Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2000
    • Named a Living Jazz Legend by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2007
  • Interesting Facts:
    • During his time in school, you could be expelled for practicing jazz in the practice rooms.
    • Was in a bad car accident in 1953 resulting in the end of his time as a trombonist  due to a chronic facial tremor caused by the injury.
    • Was fired from Lincoln University in 1957 after he married Eugenia Jones, a white opera singer.