was born in Richmond, Virginia into what he has described as a Jewish working-class family. Heavily influenced by the rock, jazz, and TV themes of his youth, he taught himself how to play through close listening and watching other musicians. Although he has backed artists from a range of the musical spectrum -- from Tony Bennett to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, from Laurie Anderson to Al Jarreau to David Bowie -- most of Baron's work has been in jazz.
He has played with classic greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Art Pepper, and Stan Getz, as well as modern jazz artists such as John Scofield, Fred Hersch, Eliane Elias, and Kenny Werner. His reputation also became synonymous with the avant-garde musicians of the '80s and '90s N.Y.C. downtown scene, including John Zorn, Tim Berne (he and Baron co-led the group Miniature), the Lounge Lizards, and Naked City. Among the over 300 recordings on which Baron has appeared, over 50 of them are associated with Zorn.
Besides his activity through the '90s with Zorn's Masada quartet (with trumpeter Dave Douglas and bassist Greg Cohen), Baron led his own group, Barondown (featuring sax great Ellery Eskelin), which released three albums: Crackshot, RAIsedpleasuredot, and Tongue in Groove. Under his own name he released two Southern-influenced funky R&B albums: Down Home in 1997 and We'll Soon Find Out in 2000. The band on both recordings included Ron Carter, Bill Frisell, and Arthur Blythe. In 2010, Baron recorded Conversation, a duet album of standards and improvisations with guitarist Jim Hall. Since 2000, he has also appeared as a sideman on the ECM label in groups led by John Abercrombie, John Taylor, Marc Johnson, Steve Kuhn, and Gary Peacock.
Along with Bill Frisell, Gary Peacock, and Lee Konitz, Baron was part of an ad hoc group that released the 2012 live album Enfants Terribles, drawn from a run of dates at the Blue Note in New York City. The following year, Baron issued Just Listen, one of the rare albums he recorded as the principal artist, with contributions from frequent collaborator Frisell. And in September 2016, ECM released Streams, a collaboration between Baron, Jakob Bro, and Thomas Morgan.
Born and raised in South Dakota, percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky has been an innovator and collaborator throughout her life. Already during her studies in Iowa and Germany and later on her international solo tours, Robyn Schulkowsky has dedicated herself to revealing the wonders of percussion to people all over the world. Her continuous exploration of new sound dimensions has led to the development of many new and unusual instruments.
An active musician on five continents, Robyn Schulkowsky moved to Germany during a heyday of experimental and adventurous classical composition. She has premiered and recorded some of the most important percussion works of the 20th and 21st centuries, working with composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Kevin Volans, John Cage, Morton Feldman and Iannis Xenakis, presenting their works during tours that included the former Soviet Union, India, Africa, South America, Korea, Japan as well as at major European music festivals.
Robyn Schulkowsky’s adventurous nature connects her with exceptional project partners and alternative performance spaces. She has collaborated on multi-media projects with legendary African drummer Kofi Ghanaba, avant-garde visual artist Guenther Uecker, the actress Edith Clever and groundbreaking choreographer Sasha Waltz, and has founded - together with Stephan Andreae - the annual festival Drums Summit Bonn.
Robyn Schulkowsky is particularly passionate about education. Since 1998, as founder of Rhythm Lab, she has taken drumming workshops to countless cities, incorporating indigenous drumming styles and patterns from around the globe, and involving students, professionals and aficionados alike in workshops and concerts. Primarily directed at children and teenagers, the project focuses on the idea of “music as the experience and not the product”, aiming to make rhythm tangible by experimenting with music, sound and movement. To this end, Robyn Schulkowsky works closely with the sound artist Lukas Kuehne, with whom she developed new percussion instruments. In spring 2009 she worked with 100 young budding musicians on her new music-theater project based on the story of Antigone which was presented in July in a former cattle-market hall in Ingolstadt (Germany) with resounding success.
Schulkowsky’s virtuosity has been captured on over 20 recordings, including CDs with violist Kim Kashkashian and trumpet players Reinhold Friedrich and Nils Petter Molvaer, and seminal recordings of compositions by Christian Wolff and Morton Feldman. She is a composer herself, and in 2005, she performed improvisations and her own compositions twice daily for two weeks on a “sound sculpture” in New York’s Grand Central Station. In 2008 her opera The Child of the Sea Otter was premiered in Oldenburg (Germany) and repeated in Mannheim and Berlin.
Last season in Sweden, together with the Gothenburg Symphony and fellow renowned solo percussionists Anders Loguin, Mika Takehara, Eirik Raude and Anders Haag, Robyn Schulkowsky performed the critically-acclaimed premiere of “Glorious Percussion” by Sofia Gubaidulina under the baton of celebrated young conductor Gustavo Dudamel. This new ensemble has since named itself after the piece and has been appearing with several important orchestras, most recently with the Berlin Philharmonic.
This season, Robyn Schulkowsky’s frenetic global pace continues with a month-long tour of South America with trumpet player Reinhold Friedrich featuring concerts and workshops, as well as a US tour of an Armenian project with violist Kim Kashkashian.