In Memoriam: David Nathaniel Baker Jr., 1931-2016

bakerDavid Baker, Distinguished Professor of Music at Indiana University, died on March 26 at his home in Bloomington, Indiana. He was 84 years old.

Professor Baker joined the faculty at Indiana University’s Jacob School of Music in 1966. There he founded the jazz program and served as its director for 45 years from 1968 to 2013. Originally a gifted trombonist, he injured his jaw in an automobile accident and was forced to switch instruments. He then mastered the cello. Over his long career, he composed more than 2,000 works of music, produced 65 recordings, and wrote more than 400 articles.

Michael A. McRobbie, president of Indiana University, issued a statement that read in part, “David Baker was one of the truly great figures in the history of jazz. He was deeply respected and extensively admired as a charismatic educator, innovative and virtuosic performer, prolific composer of depth and subtlety, and scholar of enormous range. He was truly an Indiana University treasure.”

Baker earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in music education at Indiana University Before joining the faculty at Indiana University, he taught at Lincoln University, a historically Black educational institution in Jefferson City, Missouri. Professor Baker served as president of the International Association for Jazz Education.

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