Oct. 20, 2021Print | PDF
Heather Taves, piano; Prof. James MacGowan, Associate Professor, Carleton University, guest speaker
Sonata I for Piano (1968) by David Baker (1913-2016)
I. Black Art
II. A Song – After Paul Lawrence Dunbar
A trombonist and later a cellist, David Baker founded Indiana University’s renowned jazz studies program— one of the first of its kind at an American university — in 1968. His piano sonata was written in that year, and is an elegy for both Martin Luther King and John Coltrane, both of who had recently died. Although the work may be considered a 20th century masterpiece of “Third Stream” music combining classical and jazz idioms, it has been neglected; today’s performance will be its first live interpretation on YouTube. As a performer, Mr. Baker played in the ensembles of Quincy Jones and George Russell. As a composer, he wrote hundreds of pieces, including jazz works and jazz-inflected concert music, for instrumentalists and ensembles including many of the greatest classical performers of his day. Mr. Baker was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2000 and a Living Jazz Legend by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2007. Mr. Baker’s laurels are all the more noteworthy in that he had been forced to reinvent his musical career three times: first when he was barred from making his way as a classical trombonist because of his race; second when, as a jazzman, he had to forsake the trombone after a devastating jaw injury; and third when he was driven from a prior university teaching job because he had married a white woman.
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