Artists' Fellowship - 2000
Newman Taylor Baker received his first drum set when he was two. As a child he played his drums to a wide range of recordings, including those featuring Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, Tchaikowsky, Brahms and Charlie Parker. As he grew up, he simultaneously pursued music "in the classroom" and "in the street," as part of his "life-long desire to have the drum set accepted as a solo instrument." He designed his drum set (Singin’ Drums) "as a diatonically-tuned instrument, currently seven pitches." His compositions refer to such forms as blues, gospel, marching band, dance, symphonic, and vocal music. In addition to his own compositions, he adapts others’ works and seeks others to compose for his drums.
More about the Artist:
Newman Taylor Baker is the recipient of a NYFA 2000 Fellowship in Composition for his project, Singin' Drums.
Recent appearances of Singin' Drums include A "Little Gem" of a Concert! at Cobi's Place, and The Bean-sprout Series at Marguerita's, (both in New York, NY), as well at the 2002 Pilot Pen WTA Tennis Tournament in New Haven, CT, as special guest of Phil Bowler (bassist), in solo and duo settings.
Early in 2002 Baker was commissioned by JoAnne Tucker, director of Avodah Dance Ensemble, to com-pose and perform the music for The Forgiveness Project, which was choreographed by Tucker and funded by a generous grant from The Nathan Cummings Foundation. Baker is the musical director for Dance, Rhythm, Dance, by Mickey D. & Friends Dance Company. Other projects include Celebration of the Drum Set: Give The Drummer Some (Warwick Summer Arts Festival 2001, Warwick, NY), the Congolese Missa Luba (St. Andrew and Matthew Church, Wilmington, DE, 2002), The 3 Willies (music by Leroy Jenkins, libretto by Homer Jackson, 2001), Dialogue for 2000: A Duet for Drum Set (Whitney Museum of American Art, 2000), Obie award-winning Running Man (music by Diedre Murray and text by Cornelius Eady, 1999), and Walcott Songs (music by Henry Threadgill and text by Derek Walcott, 1998).
Baker has toured over 39 countries performing with such artists as Sam Rivers, Reggie Workman, Leroy Jenkins, Jeanne Lee, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Kenny Baron, Kevin Eubanks, and such groups as the Billy Harper Quintet, the Henry Threadgill Sextett, the Delaware Symphony and the Richmond Symphony, among others.
New discography includes Francesca Tanksley/Journey (DreamCaller), Billy Harper Quintet/Soul of an Angel (Metropolitan), Yuka Aikawa/All Beings in the Universe (King), Bobby Zankel Trio/Human Flowers (CIMP), and Gerry Eastman/Lovecentric (WMC).
Baker is a lecturer at Rutgers University/Newark and works with Young Audiences/New York, Arts Horizons, Arts Genesis, Friends of the Arts, and Jazz Mobile. He serves on the Board of the Williamsburgh Music Center.
Baker earned a M.M. in Education from East Carolina University and a B.S. in Music Education from Virginia State University. He studied composition and percussion with Dr. Undine S. Moore, Dr. F. Nathaniel Gatlin and Dr. Thomas C. Bridge, Virginia State University; Fred Begun, Solo Timpanist, National Symphony Orchestra; Harold Jones, East Carolina University; and Saul Goodman, Solo Timpanist, New York Philharmonic, among others.