Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Baker, Newman (Taylor)
Baker, Newman (Taylor), drummer, singer; b. Petersburg, VA, 4 February 1943. His paternal grandfather, T. Nelson Baker, Sr., was the only former slave to receive a Phd. from Yale University (1906). His father (Chemistry) and siblings graduated from Oberlin College & Conservatory. Edith Baker (voice & piano), Ruth B. Baker (voice & piano), and Harry B. Baker (piano & organ), his aunts & uncle, were graduates of Oberlin Conservatory of Music. His maternal grandfather, Reverend Newman D. Taylor, known as the "Roland Hayes" of Mississippi, gave vocal recitals throughout the state and his uncle, Newman C. Taylor, accompanied him on piano. His aunt, India Taylor Johnson (classmate of Dr. Billy Taylor at Va. State), was a vocal music and piano teacher in the Norfolk, VA public school system.
His parents were Ruth Taylor Baker, born Yazoo City, Miss. 3/15/1914 died Va. State Un. 1/21/1961, and Dr. T. Nelson Baker, Jr, born Pittsfield, MA 7/6/1906 died Va. State Un. 4/20/1977. Newman's mother was Associate Professor of English, and his father was Head of the Chemistry Department. He sang bass in the A Cappella Choir, and played oboe in the Concert Band & the Symphony Orchestra. His parents played 4 hand transcriptions of Brahms & Beethoven symphonies at home. They lived on the campus in faculty housing.
Newman's brother, Dr. T. Nelson Baker, III, was born in Jackson, Miss. 9/17/1937. He was Newman's source for recordings of Max Roach/Clifford Brown, Horace Silver, Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Ella Fitzgerald, Art Blakey, and many others when Newman was 7-16 yrs. old.
He received his first drum the Christmas before he turned three; soon he was playing at home with jazz and classical recordings. Growing up on the campus of Virginia State University, he attended performances of leading international artists and orchestras, and was mentored by members of the music faculty: He began formal study of drums at 5 years old as a member of the Children's band for kids in the campus elementary school and played in the university concert band from 4th grade thru 7th grade. He was the youngest member in both bands.
He studied with Dr. F. Nathaniel Gatlin, Head, Dept. of Music Va. State Un. as a child 1947-52 and as an adult 1961-65. Similarly, he studied with composer Undine S. Moore, Dept. of Music Va. State Un. 1947-48 and 1961-65. He also studied with Dave Hoggard and Drummers of Va. State Un. 1947-56, Jonella Jackson, Va. State Un. 1951-55, Dr. Thomas C. Bridge Va. State Un. 1952-55 & 1961-65 (Baker graduated with a Bachelor of Science with a major in education, 1965), Fred Begun, Solo Timpanist National Symphony Orchestra Washington, DC 1966-68, and Harold Jones, School of Music East Carolina Un. Greenville, NC 1968-69. Baker earned his Master of Music in Education there, 1969. Settling in NYC, he studied with Saul Goodman, Solo Timpanist, New York Philharmonic Repertoire Institute 1971; and Billy Hart, New York, NY 1980-85.
He has performed internationally with the Billy Harper Quintet, Francesca Tanksley Trio, Henry Threadgill Sextett (sic), Sam Rivers Quartet, Benny Powell, Lou Donaldson, Delaware Symphony, Rufus Thomas, Avodah Dance Ensemble (2002), and in the TV show 2002 Emmy Award Nominee "Meeting with a Killer" (Court TV Lucky Duck Productions), and theater pieces such as 2001 The 3 Willies (music by Leroy Jenkins, libretto by Homer Jackson), 2000 Yuka and the New York Jazzmen - Tour of Japan (Yuka Aikawa), 1999 Pulitzer Prize Finalist Running Man (music and story by Diedre Murray, text by Cornelius Eady). He has also played in the national touring companies of Broadway shows.
He has participated in USIA tours to Turkey, Poland, Romania, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Peru, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia (1980, 1983, 1991)
Funded by Meet The Composer, his solo performance Singin' Drums premiered at the Williamsburgh (Brooklyn) Music Center in 1995 and grew with projects Virginia Peanuts Meets Buffalo Chips with saxophonist Joe Ford (The Internet Cafe 1996) and Sound of the Drum/Language of the Heart with dancer/choreographer Mickey Davidson (The Internet Cafe/JVC Jazz Festival 1997). In 1999, Singin' Drums was presented live- in-concert on Jazz Corner, the BETA Award-winning New York cable tv jazz show. As artistic director for A Celebration of the Drum Set: Give The Drummer Some, on the opening night of the Warwick Summer Arts Festival 2001 Warwick, NY, he performed Singin' Drums, and presented guest artists Steve Berrios and Susie Ibarra in solo and trio settings. Recent appearances of Singin' Drums include, A "Little Gem" of a Concert! at Cobi's Place, The Beansprout Series at Marguerita's both in N.Y.C, N.Y. and the 2002 Pilot Pen WTA Tennis Tournament in New Haven, CT as special guest of Phil Bowler, bassist, in solo and duo settings.
Extremely active as an educator, he has taught all ages on both percussion and voice, including workshops and classes through Friends of the Arts, Roosevelt, NY 2001-present; Young Audiences New York, New York, NY 1988-present; Arts Horizons, New York, NY 1996-present; Jazz Mobile, New York, NY 1990-present; The Bob Kindred Quartet, Young Audiences, Inc., Philadelphia, PA, 1975-1978; Rutgers University-Newark, Newark, NJ, 2000-present; Jazz Workshop Wilmington Public Schools, Wilmington, DE, 1973-1975 and Wilmington Music School, Wilmington, DE, 1973-1976; Widener College, Chester, PA, 1973-1978; Livingstone College, Assistant Director of Bands, Salisbury, NC, 1969-1973; Shaw University, Raleigh, NC, 1971-1973; Queen Anne's County Public Schools, Centerville, MD, 1965-1966.
His children are Stefani P. Baker (b. 1965) and John Michael Simpson (b. 1970) and his stepchildren are Verna A. Segal (1971), Alexander V. Segal (1972), and Dyami E. Jackson (1977).
Billy Harper: Jazz Jamboree '80 (1980), Destiny Is Yours (1983), Live On Tour in the Far East Vol. 1-3 (1991), SomaliaI (1995), If Our Hearts Could Only See (1997), Soul Of An Angel (2000);Monnette Sudler: Time for a Change (1977,) Brighter Days for You (1978), Live in Europe (1979); Cullen Knight: Looking Up (1978); Erica Lindsay Dreamer (1981);Haze Greenfield: All About You (1987); Henry Threadgill Sextett (sic): Rag, Bush and All (1989);Gerry Eastman: Contemporary Composers' Orchestra (1984), My Real Self (1986), Native Son (1992), Gerry Eastman Songbook (1995); Jeanne Lee: Natural Affinities (1992); Diedre Murray and Fred Hopkins: Prophecy (1991), Stringology (1994);Zusaan Kali Fasteau: Prophecy (1993); Bern Nix Trio: Alarms and Excursions (1993); Bernice Diskin: Hurray Home (1994); Bobby Zankel Trio: Human Flowers (1996); Frode Gjerstad Quartet: Through the Woods (1997); Ensemble Elektra: Live in '97 (1998); Elektra Curtis-Stewart: Live in '97 (1998); Francesca Tanksley: Journey (2001); Patrick Brennan: The Drum Is Honor Enough (2004), Rapt Circle(2004)
Life of A Geisha, drummer, documentary movie 2002
Meeting With A Killer vocalist one hour show Court TV
Unissued audio and video recordings:
Warwick Summer Arts Festival Warwick, NY 2001 Video Tape
Warwick Summer Arts Festival Warwick, NY 2001 Audio Tape
The Book Store Drum Circle Warwick, NY 2001 Video Tape
Singin' Drums Jazz Corner, One-hour special on New York City's live cable tv jazz program December 1998 Video Tape
Singin' Drums recording session 2000 Audio Tape
Singin' Drums recording session 2000 Video Tape
Singin' Drums Interview with Jeanette M. Vuocolo Audio Tape
2000 NYFA Fellowship in Music Composition New York Foundation for the Arts NY, NY
National Endowment for Jazz Study Grant 1971 & 1972
http://www.nyfa.org/nyfa_artists_detail.asp?pid=467 (New York Foundation for the Arts website)
http://www.avodahdance.org/NEWMAN.HTML (Avodah Dance Ensemble website)
P.O. Box 20657
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