b. 21 December 1931, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. After gaining a degree in Music Education at Indiana University, Baker played trombone with Stan Kenton (1956) and Maynard Ferguson (1957) before leading his own band in Indianapolis (1958-9) and joining Quincy Jones’ Orchestra (1961). He played with George Russell between 1959 and 1962, displaying a first-rate technique, to which he had added all the avant garde effects such as slides and smears. Muscular problems forced him to give up the trombone but he instead took up the cello and recorded with Charles Tyler in 1967. Baker had become increasingly involved in teaching and in 1966 joined the jazz department of Indiana University. He served as chairman of the jazz, folk and ethnic advisory panel to the NEA and on the jazz panel of the Kennedy Centre. In the late 80s he was President of the National Jazz Service Organization. He was able to return to the trombone in the 70s and again worked with George Russell. He is an interesting composer in many styles, whose jazz pieces, such as ‘Honesty’, have proved popular with other musicians. He has written in excess of 2, 000 pieces (many of them commissioned), sometimes applying the techniques of European classical to jazz material. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for his Concerto For Double Bass, Jazz Band, Wind And Strings.
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