IU Professor, Jazz Legend Dies

Posted: Updated:
(photo courtesy Indiana University) (photo courtesy Indiana University)
BLOOMINGTON -

Indiana University is mourning the death of one of its longtime professors and a major figure in jazz music. David Baker, distinguished professor of music and Jazz Studies Department chair emeritus, died over the weekend. He was 84.

Baker joined the IU Jacobs School of Music in 1966 and founded its Jazz Studies program, which he chaired from 1968 to 2013. Baker was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1973, a Grammy Award in 1979 and won an Emmy Award in 2003 for his musical score for the PBS documentary "For Gold and Glory."

"David Baker was one of the truly great figures in the history of jazz," said IU President Michael McRobbie. "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. While David would likely have demurred from these descriptions -- being a gentle, generous, self-effacing and modest man -- and would have insisted that only the likes of Davis, Coltrane, Coleman, Russell, Armstrong, Young, Parker, Rollins, Gillespie and perhaps one or two others meet the criteria as major figures in jazz, it was widely agreed that David himself was such a figure -- one who was important on his instrument, one who had transcended his era, one who had transformed improvisation and composition, and one who influenced all who followed. Our heartfelt and sincere condolences go out to his wife, Lida, herself a distinguished musician, and other members of his family. He was truly an Indiana University treasure."

Baker was an Indianapolis native and earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees at IU. Among his many musical accomplishments, Baker was a member of the Quincy Jones Big Band in 1960, co-founded the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, and as a composer, was commissioned by over 100 individuals and ensembles, according to the university.

"It is almost impossible to comprehend the scope of David's work and impact as a performer, teacher, composer, band leader and arts advocate," said Tom Walsh, chair of the Jacobs Jazz Studies Department. "Over the last 50 years, David Baker inspired thousands of music students, educators and musicians. His influence permeates the teaching of jazz music around the globe. David was a brilliant person who was a joy to be around. His humor, his care for people and his great desire to share his knowledge and experience made him a magnet. The encouragement he gave his students gave them the feeling that they could go into the world and do great things. And they did!"

Baker received numerous awards throughout his life, including being the third inductee into the Jazz Education Hall of Fame and receiving the IU President's Award for Distinguished Teaching. 

IU has set up a blog for people to leave remembrances of David Baker. 

  • Perspectives

    • The First Thing Nonprofit Boards Should Focus On: Member Engagement

      There is no shortage of literature on how to run a nonprofit and what the board of directors should be doing. Do a quick search for “grant writing advice” or “board meeting agenda” and you will easily find hundreds of resources. But if there is so much helpful information around, why is serving on a nonprofit board sometimes so draining? After founding two nonprofits, Musical Family Tree and the Speak Easy, as well as serving on several nonprofit boards...

    More

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • (photo courtesy The Times of Northwest Indiana)

      Hammond Pulls 135 Jobs from Illinois

      A Hammond factory recently vacated by Michigan-based Lear Corp. didn’t sit empty for very long. Midland Metal Products has taken over the former seat factory, having relocated from Chicago after 95 years. 

    • (photo courtesy of TriCore Logic)

      Fort Wayne IT Firm Expanding

      TriCore Logic has announced plans to expand its office space and staff at its downtown Fort Wayne headquarters. The company plans to invest over $200,000 in the expansions. The 2010-founded company moved to the Anthony Wayne building in 2013, and now plan to grow their staff of five employees by up to eight over the next four years. 

    • (courtesy Wes Mills)

      Purdue: Farmland Values Decline Fifth Straight Year

      The value of top-quality farmland in Indiana has declined continuing a five-year trend, according to the latest data from Purdue University.  The statewide average of the best cropland is $8,212 per acre, down more than five percent, or $456 per acre, from the same period last year. Purdue’s survey shows average and poor-quality farmland values also dropped, but not as much. Average quality farmland declined by 0.9 percent. Purdue says the poor...

    • ‘Transformation’ Continues in Westfield

      Indiana’s fastest growing city is showing no signs of slowing down.  Mayor Andy Cook says now that Westfield has established itself as a destination for family sports with the Grand Park Sports Campus, the $35 million Grand Junction Plaza will transform the city’s downtown into a destination, a place “where people want to be.”   Cook says the project, more than a decade in the making, is an example of a place making strategy necessary for Midwest...
    • Elanco is headquartered in Greenfield.

      Elanco to Acquire Bayer AG Animal Health Business

      Greenfield-based Elanco Animal Health Inc. (NYSE: ELAN) has entered into an agreement with Bayer AG (ETR: BAYN) to acquire its animal health business in a deal valued at $7.6 billion. If approved, it would double Elanco’s Companion Animal business and create the second-largest animal health company by revenue. “Joining Elanco and Bayer Animal Health strengthens and accelerates our IPP strategy, transforms our portfolio with the addition of well-known pet brands, brings...