After spending seven years in the world of academia at Bard College, where he directs the jazz department, drummer Thurman Barker took a sabbatical last year to refocus his energies on composing new material. Now the one-time house drummer for the AACM in Chicago says he is entering a new phase in his career. “I do enjoy teaching but I realize that I really want to continue the tradition of performance that the great drummers have laid down before me,” he says. “So now I feel really committed to the process of creativity and that whole movement I started back in Chicago 35 years ago.”
Barker was 17 when he began attending Muhal Richard Abrams’ weekly Experimental Band rehearsals back in 1965. He later appeared on such seminal AACM recordings as Joseph Jarman’s 1966 debut Song For and Maurice McIntyre’s 1969 debut Humility in the Light of Creator (both recently reissued by Delmark). After moving to New York in 1979, composers like Sam Rivers, Leroy Jenkins, John Lindberg, Marty Ehrlich, Butch Morris and Cecil Taylor enlisted his services.