Borah Bergman

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Borah Bergman
Borah Bergman 2010.jpg
Background information
Born (1926-12-13)December 13, 1926
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died October 18, 2012(2012-10-18) (aged 85)
New York, U.S.[1]
Genres Free jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Piano
Years active 1975–2012

Borah Bergman (December 13, 1926 – October 18, 2012) was an American free jazz pianist.

Training and influences[edit]

Bergman was born in Brooklyn to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents.[2][3] His grandfather Meir Pergamenick was a cantor.[4] Accounts of when he began to learn the piano vary: some assert that he learned clarinet as a child and did not commence his piano studies until adulthood;[5] others, that he had piano lessons from a young age;[3] one of his own accounts is that he took piano lessons as a child, then changed to clarinet, before returning to piano after being discharged from the army.[6] As an adult, he developed his left hand playing to the point where he became essentially ambidextrous as a pianist, and could play equally fast in both hands,[5] and they could act completely independently of each other;[7] Bergman himself preferred the term "ambi-ideation" to "ambidextrous", as it conveyed the added ability to express ideas achieved when both hands were equal.[6] Bergman cited Earl Hines, Bud Powell,[3] and Lennie Tristano[7] as formative influences, although his own style was based on free improvisation rather than song form. Commenting on his other influences, Bergman said that "I was influenced strongly by Ornette Coleman... I was also very influenced by chamber music and Bach and Dixieland or New Orleans, where all of the instruments were playing contrapuntally and polyphonically. So I figured I'd like to do it myself".[6]

Performance and recordings[edit]

Until the 1970s he played little in public, concentrating on private practice and his work as a school teacher.[3] He recorded four albums as a soloist, most notably on the European label Soul Note, before embarking on duo and trio albums from the 1990s. A small number of solo and quartet albums were also released from the mid-1990s. The style for which he is best known is described in The Penguin guide to jazz recordings: "His astonishing solo performances recall the 'two pianists' illusion associated with Art Tatum, though in a more fragmentary and disorderly sound-world".[8]



  1. ^ Obituary by Christoph Wagner (German)
  2. ^ Obituary in Wire
  3. ^ a b c d Kelsey, Chris (December 2004) Chris Kelsey Borah Bergman: His Fatha's Son. JazzTimes.
  4. ^ Borah Bergman: Meditations for Piano
  5. ^ a b Kelsey, Chris Artist Biography. AllMusic. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c Borah Bergman: You Must Judge a Man by the Work of His Hands (November 4, 2005) All About Jazz.
  7. ^ a b Polillo, Arrigo. In A New Frontier [CD liner notes]. Soul Note.
  8. ^ Cook, Richard & Morton, Brian (2008) The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.), p. 116. Penguin.

External links[edit]