Baikida Carroll Bio

    BAIKIDA CARROLL is a highly pivotal figure in the music world as both a composer and trumpeter. He has written scores that have distinguished theater, dance, television, film, and concerts for over three decades. His music has been heard at major forums throughout the world including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, the Walker Arts Center, The New York Shakespeare Festival, the McCarter Theatre, the Chicago Museum of Art, The Mark Taper Forum, Le Grande Palais (Paris), the Belgium Opera, the Berlin Opera, the Market Theater (Johannesburg, South Africa), as well as a multitude of jazz festivals including JVC, Heritage, Montreux, Kool and Newport.

   Born January 15,1947 in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of tenor saxophonist Jimmy Harris, who played locally with Grant Green, Jimmy Forrest and Edgar Bateman. Baikida spent his teen years playing in the high school band along with members such as Donny Hathaway and Raphael Hicks as well as the All-City Jazz Band where he first met and played with Lester Bowie, J.D. Parran and James Jabbo Ware and the All-City Orchestra. He studied trumpet and theory privately with Vernon Nashville his mentor and high school band director.

     In 1965, he enlisted in the Army where he excelled and was awarded music composition honors in the Armed Forces School of Music. Assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division USAREUR band, he found himself performing everything from classical and parade music to situation bugle calls. It was during his military service that Baikida became devoted to improvisational music, the impetus being an assignment to organize, lead, conduct and write arrangements for a 21-piece rehearsal jazz ensemble.This corresponded with his recent discovery of the music of John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Ornette Colman and John Cage.

     In 1968, Baikida returned to St. Louis and performed with several local bands including those of Albert King, Little Milton,Fontella Bass, Ike and Tina Turner and Oliver Sain. Bands of which he had played with prior to the army. But after his revelations with the Avant Gard, he realized he had a desire for a more improvisational form of music.

      That same year he was approached, while practicing in the park, by Julius Hemphill to join the newly formed Black Artist Group (BAG). A multimedia art cooperative. Although eventually he became the orchestra conductor as well as composition and trumpet instructor, initially he performed as an actor in the Jean Genet's play "The Blacks", directed by Malinke Elliot. In 1971 he composed and conducted the music for the last major full-scale production for the whole company, "Poem for A Revolutionary Night" by Larry Neal. He also attended Southern Illinois University, and took summer master classes in music at Washington University under the direction of Oliver Nelson, with guest instructors such as Thad Jones, Ron Carter, Mel Lewis, Phil Woods and Roland Hanna between 1968 and 1972.

      In 1971, Baikida was commissioned to score his first film, "Billy Goes to Mecca," by The Metropolitan Community Center for the Arts. He also recorded Oliver Lake's first album "NTU." The following year, Baikida teamed with Julius Hemphill, to record his first album "Dogon A.D." Later that year, Baikida, Oliver Lake, Joseph Bowie, Floyd Leflore and Charles "Bobo" Shaw ventured to Paris, France, to seek broader performing opportunities. One of their first concerts was at the Grande Palais. The ensemble performed throughout Europe for a year, and after its conclusion, Oliver and Baikida continued performing as a duo for an additional year.

      In 1973, Baikida formed his own band and worked around Paris. He also taught trumpet and music theory at the American Center for Students and Artists, and performed with Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton, Alan Silva and several other musicians throughout Europe. 1974 Baikida was awarded his first residency fellowship, by the International Cite des Arts, Paris. The following year Baikida recorded his first album "Orange Fish Tears", with Oliver Lake, Nana Vasconcelos and Manual Villaroel, on the Palm Record label.

      June 1975 saw Baikida's return to New York City, where he reunited with Julius Hemphill and performed with friends such as Sam Rivers, Hamiett Bluiett, Lester Bowie, David Murray. He taught composition and directed the big band at Queens College, and was a first-call trumpet player for several producers,including Michael Cuscuna and Charlie Morrow. In 1976, he traveled to San Francisco for a weekend gig at the Keystone Korner with Oliver Lake and stayed for 2 1/2 years. He performed locally and led bands that included members such as Julian Priester, Alex Cline, Michael Formanek, Michele Rosewoman and John Carter.In 1978, Baikida returned to New York City and performed with his band,"Ring" which was comprised of Billy Hart, Julius Hemphill, Fred Hopkins, Michele Rosewoman, Nana Vasconcelos, Abdul Wadud. He also played concerts with Howard Johnson, Jay McShann, George Gruntz, Roscoe Mitchell and Don Pullen. Later that year,he relocated to Woodstock, NY, and became part of the faculty and artistic advisory board (along with Dave Holland and Jack Dejohnette) of Woodstock's legendary Creative Music Studio, where he taught until the Studio's closing in 1984.

     The year 1978 brought a fortuitous opportunity. After performing with his band at the New York Public Theater, he was approached by Joseph Papp who was in the audience of his "Ring" concert. Mr. Papp asked him if he was interested in writing music for theater. Baikida responded enthusiastically. This initial meeting led to a long term friendship and creative association with Joe Papp. Baikida's first commission was to score the music for "White Sirens", a play by Lois Elain Griffin. This event rekindled a passion of writing for theater, that had been initiated in the Black Artists Group of 1968, which continues to this day.

     Throughout his career Baikida Carroll has received a number of fellowships, awards, grants and commissions. These include the National Endowment for the Arts (1980 and 1983), Meet the Composer (1981,1982, and 1993), the Musicians' Foundation (1986 and 1987), and the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees Academic Scholarship Award (1971). He was awarded Residency Fellowships at Music OMI (1997), the American Center for Students and Artists in Paris, France (1973-75), and the International Cite des Arts in Paris.

     Baikida's theater works include The Mighty Gents by Richard Wesley, Poem for a Revolutionary Night by Larry Neal, Coontown Bicentennial Memorial Services with and by Julius Hemphill, For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange, featuring the voice of Patti LaBelle, Miss Julie by August Strindberg, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams, King Lear by William Shakespeare, A Doll-House by Henrik Ibsen, and The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico Garcia Lorca. In addition, Baikida co-authored and scored the highly acclaimed R&B musical Betsey Brown with Emily Mann and Ntozake Shange. In 1995, Baikida composed the score to Emily Mann's Having Our Say, the Tony-nominated Broadway show that continues to tour the world, collecting accolades as a modern classic. Also in 1995, Baikida recorded Door of the Cage, on Soul Note Records. The critically acclaimed recording received kudos as Record of the Month, Pick of the Week, and one of the Top Ten of the Year from several publications.

     Throughout his career Baikida Carroll has received a number of fellowships, awards, grants and commissions. These include the National Endowment for the Arts (1980 and 1983), Meet the Composer (1981,1982, and 1993), the Musicians' Foundation (1986 and 1987), and the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees Academic Scholarship Award (1971). He was awarded Residency Fellowships at Music OMI (1997), the American Center for Students and Artists in Paris, France (1973-75), and the International Cite des Arts in Paris (1975).

     Baikida has also served as a panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts Artists' Fellowships (1989), the Colored Museum Symposium on Multi- Ethnic Theater (1994), and a Planning Board member for the Pew Charitable Trust Foundation (1992). He currently serves on the boards of Music OMI and the noted series Dorothy Siesel Presents Jazz at Woodstock.

     During the 80's and 90's Carroll performed as side man with some of the top bands in the business, including The American Quartet ( Charlie Haden, Dewey Redman, Paul Motian and Carroll) Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition Don Cherry and Meredith Monk, Oliver Lake and Julius Hemphill Big Bands Muhal Richard Abram's Big Band and Quartet, Charlie Haden's Liberation Orchestra, David Murray's Octet and Big Band as well as his own ensembles.

     In 1999 Baikida completed a European tour as a featured soloist with the Carla Bley Big Band, performing her classic opera Escalator over the Hill. He performed live in New York City and recorded the 2000 Grammy nominated CD "Inspiration" with jazz innovator Sam Rivers in the Sam Rivers All Star Big Band, an ensemble organized to honor Rivers 75th birthday. One of Carroll's most recent awards is a "Duke Ellington Established Composers Award".

     Baikida was commissioned by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and the International Association of Jazz Educators. For this occasion he composed and conducted "Chez Duke", performed by the United States Airforce Big Band Airmen of Note, premiering in New Orleans, Jan. 13, 2000. On September 14th and 15th (2000) he recorded his newest CD "Marionettes on a High Wire" for Omni Tone Records. In August of 2001 Carroll scored "The Oedipus Plays", a mythical production of Sophocle's epic Oedipus trilogy; Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone, set in Africa. Directed by Michael Kahn and starring Avery Brooks, Earle Hyman and Cynthia Martells, The show, at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington D.C., received rave reviews and played to a packed house for 8 weeks.

The 2002 Chamber Music America Award


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