Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Barker, Thurman

Barker, Thurman, drummer, percussionist, educator; b. Chicago, Illinois, 8 January 1948. His parents are Tommy and Avis Barker.  He began his professional career at the young age of 16 playing for blues singer Mighty Joe Young.  He holds a B.A. in Music, Empire State College, New York, NY and an A.A. in Humanities, Kennedy-King College, Chicago, Illinois. He did percussion study with Edward Parimba, Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois and drum set study with Harold Jones, American Conservatory of Music, Chicago, Illinois. Classically trained at the American Conservatory of Music his reputation as a drummer grew quickly.  He has played backup for Billy Eckstine, Marvin Gaye, Bette Midler and Vicki Carr.  He was the house drummer at the Schubert Theatre in Chicago for 10 years where he played for national touring companies in Hair, The Wiz, The Me Nobody Knows, Promises Promises, 1776, Bubblin Brown Sugar, Raisin in the Sun, Grease, One More Time and Ain't Misbehavin.   

Thurman Barker is a charter member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), an organization with which he continues his association to this day. In 1994, his work "Dialogue," commissioned by the World Music Institute, was remiered at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City.  He was commissioned to do another piece in 1996 by the World Music Institute. Barker has been commissioned three times by the Delaware Valley Chamber Orchestra in Sullivan County, New York and in September, 2002, a woodwind quintet entitled "Rise and Shine" will be premiered. The Woodstock Chamber Orchestra premiered two chamber pieces of his; "Time Factor" in October, 2000 and "Expansions" in May of '99.  In the fall of '99, under the auspices of Bard College, Barker was given the honor of lecturing at Smolny Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia.  He has taught and developed the jazz program at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, since 1993 and is an Associate Professor of Jazz Studies there.

The Way I Hear It (1999); Voyage; Time Factor (2001)

As sideperson:
Muhal Richard Abrams: View From Within, Mama-Daddy, Life Blinec, Young at Heart, Wise in Time, Levels and Degrees of Light Anthony Braxton: Performance 9/1/79, Seven Compositions; Joseph Jarman: As If It Were the Season, Song For; John Lindberg: Relative Reliability, Triology of Work for Eleven Instruments; Roscoe Mitchess: The Maze; Amina C. Myers: Circle of Time; Sam Rivers: Waves, Contrast; Cecil Taylor: Live in Bologna, Live in Vienna

1985-present    Numerous "Meet the Composer" Grants from the New York State Council on the Arts.
1978    National Endowment for the Arts

Contact information:
Thurman Barker
Director of Jazz Studies, Bard College
Uptee Productions

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