A Celebration of David Baker’s Life in Music

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David N. Baker, Jr. (1931-2016)

David N. Baker, Jr.
(1931-2016)

We mourn the passing of David Nathaniel Baker, Jr who died at his home in Bloomington, Indiana on Saturday, March 26, 2016 at the age of 84. David was an extraordinarily accomplished composer, author, conductor, and teacher; and among the most influential voices in contemporary American music over the past five decades. The Keiser-Southern Music family offers our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. We submit this humble memorial as a tribute to and celebration of his life and music.

Born on December 21, 1931 in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Baker grew up in the rich musical tradition of the black community, in the world of church and gospel music, blues and rhythm & blues, and jazz. He trained as a classical musician and composer at Indiana University, where he later became Distinguished Professor of Music and Chairman of the Jazz Department. Baker also had served as conductor and artistic director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. A virtuoso performer on multiple instruments and top in his field in several disciplines, Mr. Baker taught and performed throughout the USA, Canada, Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Though thoroughly educated in classical music, Baker’s early career began in an era when the professional options for a black man in that field were extremely limited. As for composing, he once said, “there was no reason for me to aspire to write classical music. At that time the handful of black composers who were actually writing classical music were constantly struggling to have their works performed. There were virtually no role models for me to follow, and very limited opportunities to hear the music these composers were creating.” However in 1969, Baker was approached by his friend and colleague, the legendary violinist and pedagogue Josef Gingold, with a request to write a concerto for violin and jazz band. Baker accepted, and following the masterful premiere with the IU Jazz Ensemble, myriad commissions from colleagues and other world-class artists and ensembles would follow thereafter.

David Baker’s style is often described as “thirdstream,” a term commonly used since the late 1950s to describe the synthesis of elements of classical music not only with jazz but also with other folk and popular traditions. At his 2006 acceptance address of Indiana University’s Tracy M. Sonneborn Award, Baker stated, ” It was the philosophical rubric of thirdstream–not only in the narrower view of combining classical music and jazz, but also in the broader interpretation which combined classical music with various ethnic or vernacular musics–that provided me with the means to seek out my own identity as a composer.”

Over the course of his multifaceted career, David received numerous awards, including the National Association of Jazz Educators Hall of Fame Award, the Indiana Historical Society’s Living Legend Award, the James Smithson Medal from the Smithsonian Institution, the American Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Emmy Award for his musical score documentary For Gold and Glory. In 2007 he was honored by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with their Living Jazz Legend Award. As a composer Mr. Baker was commissioned by more than 500 individuals and ensembles, including many world-class performers. He served a number of times on the Pulitzer Prize Music Jury and was Chair of the Jazz Faculty of the Steans Institute for Young Artists at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, IL. His compositions total more than 2,000 in number, including jazz and symphonic works, chamber music, and ballet and film scores.

CATALOG OF WORKS – VIDEO EXCERPTS

Alto Saxophone Concerto: “Lee Konitz” (1989) 21′
Asax Solo: 3.3.3.3: 4.3.3.1: Timp.Perc(2): Str

David Baker’s concerto for alto saxophone and large orchestra is named after legendary jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz, who commissioned the work. Recorded by Czech National Symphony, Paul Freeman, conductor; Thomas Walsh, alto saxophone (Albany Records).

Listen/ watch:
Movement I
Movement II
Movement III

 

Clarinet Sonata (1990) 14′
This transcription of Baker’s Flute Sonata (1989) was performed at UBC Distinguished Artist Series, Canada. Recorded by Jaren Hinckley, clarinet and Vince Humphries, piano.

Listen/ watch:
Blues
Lonliness
Dance

 

Life Cycles for Tenor, Horn and Strings (1988) 20′
Recorded by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Paul Freeman, conductor; William Brown, tenor; Zdenek Tylsar, horn. Can be performed as a standalone cycle of 5 songs, or as a companion piece to Benjamin Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings. Composed for William Brown; texts by Terence Diggory. A reduction for tenor, horn and piano is also available.

Listen/ watch:
Night Song
Surface
Autumn Moral
What It Means When Spring Comes
Saints and Hermits

 

Roots II (1992) 25′
Violin, Cello, Piano
Each of the five movements is a stylized portrait of a musical form from the African-American tradition. Roots II was commissioned and recorded by the Beaux Arts Trio, Philips CD 438-866-2.

Listen/ watch:
Incantation
Dance in Congo Square
Sorrow Song
Boogie Woogie
Jubilee

 

Singers of Songs, Weavers of Dreams for Cello and Percussion (1981) 25′
Commissioned by Janos Starker; recorded and edited by Janos Starker, cello and George Gaber, percussion (Laurel Record LR 117). Each movement of this suite pays tribute to a different jazz icon, including Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Yancey, Paul Robeson, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, and Dizzy Gillespie.

Listen/ watch

 

Through this Vale of Tears: In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr.(1986) 22′
Tenor or Soprano Solo: 2 Violin, Viola, Cello, Piano

Commissioned and recorded twice by tenor William Brown, Through This Vale of Tears is a kind of social commentary on the death of Dr. King. As described by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Mr. Baker’s piece set a variety of texts in a cornucopia of styles, including scat, spiritual, and chorale. Miraculously, this diversity cohered, producing a multi-dimensional work filled with grief, humor and hope.”

Listen/ watch:
Thou Dost Lay Me in The Dust of Death
If There Be Sorrow
My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?
Parades to Hell
Deliver My Soul
Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

Explore David Baker’s catalog of Keiser Classical publications on Hal Leonard’s website.

For additional information on David Baker or his works, write to Keiser Classical.

Press links:
ABC/ Associated Press
New York Times.
Indianapolis Star

Charles Neidich – Cavallini and Jeanjean Editions

With the release of new editions by acclaimed clarinetist Charles Neidich this season, we also wanted to acquaint our readers to two outstanding previously issued publications that make significant contributions to the clarinet literature~

Cavallini coverErnesto Cavallini: 30 Caprices for Clarinet
With 2 Full Performance CD’s
Edited and Recorded by Charles Neidich

Excerpts from the Editor’s notes:

Called the Paganini of the Clarinet by the English clarinet virtuoso, Henry Lazarus, Ernesto Cavallini was a respected friend and colleague of the most important Italian composers of his day, including Rossini, Donizetti, and Verdi. Cavallini wrote his 30 Caprices in five volumes, each including pieces for both technical and musical study. He was intensely interested that the Caprices be not merely technical exercises, but studies in style and phrasing: an introduction to the new expressive force of the new music of his time. With this in mind, he made numerous expressive indications in his etudes which went beyond the standard markings of crescendo, diminuendo, accelerando, ritardando. I have restored these markings and have included translations at the end of the volume. The noteworthy feature of this edition is the recording I have included with my performances of the Caprices. Rather than clutter Cavallini’s already expressively notated scores with still more markings, I offer the recording as a window into the “bel canto” style of the etudes and as models of the kind of performance to which the student should aspire. Order from your favorite retailer or through Hal Leonard.

Jeanjean coverPaul Jeanjean: 18 Etudes for Clarinet (Etudes de perfectionnement)
With 2 Full Performance CD’s
Edited and Recorded by Charles Neidich

Excerpts from the Editor’s notes:

Since I first played them as a student, I have had a special love for Jeanjean’s 18 Etudes de peifectionnement. Paul Jeanjean, who was principal clarinetist of the Garde Republicaine Band and later of the Monte Carlo opera, was, obviously, a musician of the greatest sensitivity. His etudes are highly developed concert works that can make for very impressive additions to recital programs. Jeanjean did not want players of his etudes to simply be concerned with learning the notes. He hoped his etudes would help educate clarinetists to hear and appreciate the new music of his time. The noteworthy feature of this edition is the recording I have included with my performances of the etudes. Rather than clutter Jeanjean’s already expressively notated scores with still more markings, I offer the recording as a window into the modern, yet romantic style of the etudes and as models of the kind of performance to which the student should aspire. Order from your favorite retailer or through Hal Leonard.

Judith Zaimont’s Elegy New Video

Judith Zaimont

Composer Judith Zaimont

Elegy for String Orchestra by Judith Zaimont has received a handsome treatment from NY videographer Michael Bregman, just out on Youtube. The performance is from the first of its two recordings, the one performance by the Czech Radio Orchestra. Elegy has also been recorded by the Slovak National Symphony conducted by Kirk Trevor, Naxos Records. The work was excerpted from Zaimont’s Symphony No. 2 (“Remember Me”) and was written in memoriam of Mildred “Barry” Friedman.

Carol Wincenc 21st Century Series New Releases- Two Mozart Flute Concerti

The concerti by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart K 313 in G Major and K 314 in D Major represent two of the most important pieces for the flute. These Carol
Wincenc publcations help students in their learning and preparation of these great works by utilizing a second flute part, an effective practice introduced by her teacher Marcel Moyse. The second part serves as a useful tool in lessons at which no pianist is present to accompany the soloist and reveals to the student musical subtleties and concepts which would otherwise not have been possible to impart. The arrangements have been carefully written to be playable on historical as well as modern flutes, and include Ms. Wincenc’s own cadenzas that have been brilliantly honed by years of professional concertizing.

Wincenc Mozart Concerto 1Mozart Concerto No. 1 in G Major, K313 with Flute 2 Part and Cadenzas by Carol Wincenc

Referred to as the “King of Concerti” in both popularity and difficulty, the G Major Concerto holds a special significance for Ms. Wincenc as an important part of her repertoire throughout her career.  The challenges inherent in the piece do not diminish through frequent performance, but rather they increase, as one music retain clarity, a cantabile style, brilliance, and a sense of angelic purity and simplicity.  Arranged and edited by Carol Wincenc and Bryan Wagorn.  Order from your favorite retailer or through Hal Leonard.

Wincenc Mozart Concerto 2Mozart Concerto No. 2 in D Major, K314 with Flute 2 Part and Cadenzas by Carol Wincenc

The D Major concerto is one of Ms. Wincenc’s “desert island” pieces, being the first of the Mozart concerti she studied, giving her first performance of it with her middle school band!  The piece I full of great technical difficulties and, in the slow movement, one must achieve a real sense of innocence and purity of tone.  Arranged and edited by Carol Wincenc and Bryan Wagorn. Order from your favorite retailer or through Hal Leonard.

LKMP New Heifetz Collection Releases Fall 2015

Bazzini Dance of the Goblins Heifetz

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Bazzini La Ronde Des Lutins
(Dance of the Goblins)
Arranged by Jascha Heifetz
Critical Urtext Edition by Endre Granat

This great bravura piece uses many of the innovations the composer learned from his teacher, Niccolo Paganini–ricochet and flying staccato bowings, double harmonics, left hand pizzicato, and repetition of the same pitch on all four strings. This work remained one of Heifetz’ favorite encores. He recorded  it in 1917 and again in 1937. His bowings, fingerings and his suggestions regarding interpretation are integral features of this edition. Order from your favorite retailer or though Hal Leonard.

Paganini Witches Dance Heifetz

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Paganini Witches Dance Op. 8
Arranged by Jascha Heifetz
Critical Urtext Edition by Endre Granat

A mature work of Paganini, Witches Dance uses all the innovations he had introduced as a violin virtuoso performer. Like so many of his other works, it was not published during the composer’s lifetime. Jascha Heifetz’ bowings, fingerings and suggestions regarding interpretation are an integral part of this Critical Urtext edition by Endre Granat.

Order from your favorite retailer or through Hal Leonard.

Lauren Keiser Music received the Paul Revere Award’s 1st Prize for Collated Music for the Heifetz Collection Release, Passacaglia for Two Violins by G.F. Handel, arranged by Johan Halvorsen and edited by Jascha Heifetz.  This edition was co-edited by Endre Granat and Stephen Shipps, with music engraving by Nicholas Hopkins.

Southern Music New Holiday Collection for Strings

Carols of Christmas

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Carols of Christmas for String Quartet
Arranged by Stuart Carlson

These excellent and creative arrangements sparkle with the holiday season! Titles include: Silent Night, The First Noel, Carol of the Bells, O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fidelis), Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Holy Night, Deck the World with Joy and Bells (medley).

Stuart Ross Carlson is quickly establishing himself as a gifted composer and arranger. In addition, he has received numerous accolades as a violinist. His works have been performed across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Lauren Keiser Music Publishing introduced Mr. Carlson with our publication of his arrangement of the Bach D minor Toccata and Fugue for solo violin. Strings Magazine featured this publication with a full page rave review in October of 2014.

Order from your favorite retailer or through Hal Leonard.