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Linda Cajigas
Jacobs School of Music

Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011

IU Distinguished Professor of Jazz Studies David N. Baker to be honored in 80th birthday celebration

Dec. 19, 2011

UPDATE: David Baker 80th Birthday Celebration tickets have been fully distributed. A small number of tickets may be available at performance time and will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please also note that the concert will be live-streamed from IUMusicLive!

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Dec. 21 may be this year's shortest day, but it marks a longevity milestone in the life of one of the most enduring talents in jazz today. David N. Baker, distinguished professor of jazz studies and chair of the Jazz Studies Department at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, will turn 80.

Baker image

Photo by Kendall Reeves

David N. Baker

Print-Quality Photo

In honor of his 60-year career as a jazz musician and educator, the Jacobs School of Music will present the David Baker 80th Birthday Celebration at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, in Bloomington's Musical Arts Center. Admission is free but requires tickets, available from the MAC box office beginning Tuesday, Jan. 10.

"The musical world converges in Bloomington to celebrate one who means so much to so many," said Gwyn Richards, dean of the Jacobs School. "I know nothing could mean more to David than for his former students and colleagues to gather for this special occasion. David has shaped the lives of so many professional musicians, and to see them respond to their mentor in this way is touching. It will be a memorable weekend."

The concert, featuring Jacobs faculty, students and alumni performing several styles of music composed by Baker, will include classical chamber music -- "Aspects of Andy"and "Homage a L'Histoire"-- with faculty members John Rommel, trumpet; Dee Stewart, trombone; James Campbell, clarinet; William Ludwig, bassoon; Eric Kim, cello; Bruce Bransby, bass; Luke Gillespie, piano; and Kevin Bobo, percussion; and students Hannah Linz and Brendan Shea, violin, and Caroline Gilbert, viola.

A reunion of the 21st-Century Bebop Band, a student group Baker created and led for many years, will jazz things up with Professor Pat Harbison, trumpet, and alumni Ralph Bowen and Jack Wilkins, tenor saxophone; Robert Hurst, bass; Jim Beard, piano; and Shawn Pelton, drums.

All alumni in the band were in the ensemble as students and have gone on to major careers in the music industry.

Bowen has performed with Horace Silver and Michel Camilo and is featured on over 70 CDs. Wilkins is the director of jazz studies at the University of South Florida and is featured on a number of recordings. Hurst has played and recorded with Wynton and Branford Marsalis and was a member of the Jay Leno "Tonight Show" band led by Branford Marsalis. Beard has performed with Wayne Shorter, Pat Metheny, Steely Dan and many others. Pelton has been the drummer for the "Saturday Night Live" band for over 25 years.

The evening will end on a high note when alumni Pharez Whitted and Scott Wendholt, trumpet; Shannon LeClaire, alto saxophone; Rob Dixon, tenor saxophone; and Michael Weiss, piano, join the David Baker Jazz Ensemble to swing the MAC with big-band performances.

"David Baker's influence has been felt worldwide through his teaching, writing, performances and compositions," said Tom Walsh, Jacobs associate professor of saxophone and coordinator of the event. "We are excited to have the opportunity to celebrate his music and achievements with alumni, students, faculty, family and friends."

The Jacobs Department of Recording Arts, directed by Konrad Strauss, will video-stream the concert live at The stream will be directed by John Winninger.

Earlier in the day, at 3 p.m. in the Musical Arts Center lobby, a panel discussion will feature Baker and Monika Herzig -- author of the recent book "David Baker: A Legacy in Music" (Indiana University Press, 2011) -- with contributing Jacobs faculty authors David Ward-Steinman, Brent Wallarab and Lissa May, as well as alumni J.B. Dyas and John Edward Hasse.

For more information about the David Baker 80th Birthday Celebration, email or call 812-855-7560.

To share a personal message or a memory of Baker, visit the celebration's blog site at

Related events include a Dec. 21 black-tie dinner and concert at The Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis featuring the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra performing Baker's original compositions to commemorate the CD "Basically Baker," re-released by Owl Studios. Tickets are $125 and may be purchased from or by calling 317-253-4900.

Donations in Baker's honor may be made to the David N. Baker Jazz Scholarship at the Jacobs School of Music, c/o Indiana University Foundation, P.O. Box 6460, Indianapolis, IN 46206-6460. For more information, please contact the Jacobs School of Music Office of Development at 812-855-7436.

About David N. Baker
Indianapolis native Baker is an award-winning musician, composer and educator who has performed and taught throughout the world. He has more than 65 recordings, 70 books and 400 articles to his credit and has written more than 2,000 compositions, including jazz, symphonic and chamber works.

Baker has received numerous honors and awards, including the American Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Living Jazz Legend Award from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Indiana Living Legend Award. He is a Grammy Award and Pulitzer Prize nominee, and he won an Emmy Award in 2003.

He has served as musical and artistic director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra since its inception.

The 2011-12 academic year marks Baker's 45th year of teaching at Indiana University.

For more information about Baker, including an extended biography, visit