|Born||December 13, 1926|
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||October 18, 2012 (aged 85)|
New York, U.S.
Borah Bergman (December 13, 1926 – October 18, 2012) was an American free jazz pianist.
Training and influences
Bergman was born in Brooklyn to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. His grandfather Meir Pergamenick was a cantor. 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; others, that he had piano lessons from a young age; 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. 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, and they could act completely independently of each other; Bergman himself preferred the term "ambi-ideation" to "ambidextrous", as it conveyed the added ability to express ideas achieved when both hands were equal. Bergman cited Earl Hines, Bud Powell, and Lennie Tristano 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".
Performance and recordings
Until the 1970s he played little in public, concentrating on private practice and his work as a school teacher. 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".
|1976?||Bursts of Joy||Chiaroscuro||Solo piano|
|1983||A New Frontier||Soul Note||Solo piano|
|1984||Upside Down Visions||Soul Note||Solo piano|
|1990||The Fire Tale||Soul Note||Duo, with Evan Parker (soprano sax)|
|1992||Inversions||Muworks||Duo, with Thomas Chapin (alto sax, saxello)|
|1992||The Human Factor||Soul Note||Duo, with Andrew Cyrille (drums)|
|1994||First Meeting||Knitting Factory||Most tracks duo, with Roscoe Mitchell (alto sax, soprano sax); some tracks trio, with Thomas Buckner (vocals) added|
|1994||The October Revolution||Evidence||Quartet, with Joe McPhee (tenor saxophone, flugelhorn), Wilber Morris (bass), Rashied Ali (drums); in concert|
|1994–95||The Italian Concert||Soul Note||Duo, with Roscoe Mitchell (alto sax, soprano sax)|
|1995||Reflections on Ornette Coleman and the Stone House||Soul Note||Duo, with Hamid Drake (drums)|
|1996||Eight By Three||Mixtery||Trio, with Anthony Braxton and Peter Brötzmann (reeds)|
|1996||Geometry||Leo||Duo, with Ivo Perelman (tenor sax)|
|1996||Blue Zoo||Konnex||Trio, with Thomas Borgmann (tenor sax), Peter Brötzmann (alto sax, tarogato)|
|1996||Ride into the Blue||Konnex||Trio, with Thomas Borgmann (tenor sax), Peter Brötzmann (alto sax, tarogato)|
|1996||Left||Not Two||Trio, with Peter Brötzmann (tenor sax, clarinet, tarogato), Frode Gjerstad (alto sax)|
|1996–97||Exhilaration||Soul Note||Trio, with Peter Brötzmann (alto sax), Andrew Cyrille (drums)|
|1997?||Ikosa Mura||Cadence||with Frode Gjerstad, Bobby Bradford and Pheeroan akLaff|
|1997||A New Organization||Soul Note||Duo, with Oliver Lake (alto sax); in concert|
|1997||Toronto 1997||Boxholder||Duo, with Thomas Chapin (sax, flute)|
|2000||The River of Sounds||Boxholder||Trio, with Conny Bauer (trombone), Mat Maneri (violin)|
|2001||Meditations for Piano||Tzadik||Solo piano|
|2002||The Double Idea||Boxholder||Solo piano|
|2003||The Mahout||Slam||Trio, with George Haslam (baritone sax, tarogato), Paul Hession (drums)|
|2002||Rivers in Time||FMR||Most tracks duo, with Frode Gjerstad (sax, clarinet); some tracks solo piano; one track Gjerstad solo|
|2003||Acts of Love||Mutable Music||Trio, with Lol Coxhill (soprano sax), Paul Hession (drums)|
|2007||One More Time||Silta||Duo, with Giorgio Dini (bass)|
|2007||Live at Tortona||Mutable Music||Duo, with Stefano Pastor (violin); in concert|
|2008||Luminescence||Tzadik||Most tracks trio, with Greg Cohen (bass), Kenny Wollesen (drums); one track quartet, with John Zorn (alto sax) added|
- Obituary by Christoph Wagner (German)
- Obituary in Wire
- Kelsey, Chris (December 2004) Chris Kelsey Borah Bergman: His Fatha's Son. JazzTimes.
- Borah Bergman: Meditations for Piano
- Kelsey, Chris Artist Biography. AllMusic. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
- Borah Bergman: You Must Judge a Man by the Work of His Hands (November 4, 2005) All About Jazz.
- Polillo, Arrigo. In A New Frontier [CD liner notes]. Soul Note.
- Cook, Richard & Morton, Brian (2008) The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.), p. 116. Penguin.