Thurman Barker began his professional career at the young age of 16 playing for blues singer Might Joe Young. Classically trained at the American Conservatory of Music his reputation as a drummer grew quickly. He has played backup for Billy Eckstein, Marvin Gaye, Bette Midler and Vicki Carr. He was the house drummer at the Schubert Theatre in Chicago for 10 years where he played for national touring companies in Hair; The Wiz; The Me Nobody Knowsl; Promises, Promises; 1776; Bubblin Brown Sugar; Raisin in the Sun; Grease; One Mo' Time; and Aint Misbehavin.
Mr. Barker is a charter member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), an organization with which he continues his association to this day. He has performed and is known worldwide. He has recorded with Cecil Taylor, Muhal Richard Abrams, Amina Claudine Meyers, Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, Sam Rivers, Billy Bang, Joseph Jarman, and Henry Threadgill. He has produced four recordings under his own record label, Uptee Productions. The Way I Hear It was released in January of '99. His first album Voyage, was reissued in CD form in November '99. Time Factor was released in December 2001 and his fourth CD Strike Force was released in February, 2004. In 1994, his work "Dialogue," commissioned by the Mutable Music, was premiered at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. He has since completed a second commission by the Mutable Music as well as two commissions by the Delaware Valley Chamber Orchestra in Sullivan County, New York. The Woodstock Chamber Orchestra premiered a chamber piece of his entitled "Expansions" in May of '99. In the fall of '99 Thurman Barker was given the honor of being a lecturer at Smolny University in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has taught and developed the jazz program at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York since 1993 and is an Associate Professor of Jazz Studies there.