Jim Baker has been playing in and around Chicago as a pianist, keyboardist, and synthesist for more than two decades, mostly in improvisational contexts. He initially studied piano with Thomas Scott, of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and studied composition with Morgan Powell and Herbert Brun at the University of Illinois at Urbana.
During the 1980's, Baker played frequently in groups led by saxophonist Harold Jones (a.k.a. Hal Raru), and also played in the Nicholas Tremulis band. After leaving the Tremulis group, Baker was an active participant in the then-nascent free improvisation scene, performing with groups including trombonist Bill Barnes; guitarist / xylophonist Rick Barnes; guitarist / banjoist Andre Caporaso; percussionist Steve Hunt, bassist Kent Kessler, shortwave radiotarist / hydrokalimbist Don Meckley; bassist / guitarist / trumpeter Brian Sandstrom; violinist / guitarist / cornetist Daniel Scanlan; mezzo-coloratura Gwendolyn Manter-Seminara; and percussionist / tubaphonist Michael Zerang. Baker performs regularly as house pianist at the weekly Sunday evening jam sessions at Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge (2158 1/2 S. Indiana, Chicago). His activities as a writer / composer have been ongoing during the past twenty years, and some of his compositions have been recorded by Steam and Broken Wire.