Barker is a 68-year-old Chicago native whose involvement in creative music dates back to the mid-1960s, when he was a teenaged charter member of his hometown's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Over the years, he has collaborated with most of the major musicians associated with the AACM, as well as with pianist Cecil Taylor, saxophonists Sam Rivers and Anthony Braxton, and many other notables of adventurous improvised music.
As his career progressed, Barker began to spend more time involved in composing and education, and since 1993, he's been an associate professor at Bard College in upstate New York.
Given that his two St. Louis performances will be mostly improvised music, there's really no way to "preview" them, so instead here's a selection of videos showing Barker playing in a variety of musical contexts, presented in reverse chronological order.
The first video up above captures a Barker drum solo, recorded in October 2015 during a concert at Bard College. Following the jump, you can see another solo improvisation, recorded in January 2013 at a benefit for percussionist Warren Smith at the Brecht Forum in NYC.
After that, there are three videos of Barker leading different ensembles. The first features his quartet with Alex Hood (trumpet), Michael Foster (tenor sax, baritone sax), and Eric Silberberg (bass), and was recorded in April 2013 at a concert for the Evolving Music Series at the NYC venue Arts for Art.
The next clip is of Barker's group Time Factor, with pianist Rob Schwimmer, bassist Jerome Harris, and guitarist James Emery, and was made in October 2012 in NYC. That's followed by a performance by the drummer's Organ Trio, with tenor saxophonist Patience Higgins and organist Lonnie Gasperini, recorded in September, 2006 in NYC.
The final clip is an excerpt from a performance Barker did with Cecil Taylor in 1995 in Frankfurt, Germany.