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On and Off the Grid

Goodbye Borah

By Published: November 15, 2012
We played a little, just for the sound, and when we were ready to record, Borah took out a watch and laid it on the piano. We started with a burst and kept going non-stop and, at exactly three minutes, we started to build to a climax and, thirty seconds later, we stopped with an accented note. There were no signals or head nods. After spending so much time playing together we instinctively knew when to stop. I was satisfied with the first cut, but Borah was such a perfectionist he wanted to do it again. Since I was the leader and paying for this, I told him absolutely not. If I left it up to him we would be there all day and never get it as good as the first cut. The reviews would later prove me right.

As the years went by we kept playing together, but Borah's physical and mental health were in decline. It seems the older he got, the more difficult he was to get along with.

A few years ago I had some health problems and I didn't have the energy to deal with Borah and his negativity. I needed to be around positive energy and, although the music with Borah was positive, his negative personality would have brought me down and I needed to heal. Every once in awhile we would talk on the phone, and the last time I saw him was at a benefit I was performing in the winter of 2010. We talked for a while and promised each other we would play together soon, but it never happened.

Last year, violinist Jason Kao Hwang
Jason Kao Hwang
Jason Kao Hwang
b.1957
violin
, who befriended Borah too, called to tell me that, because of his declining health, Borah had moved to Baltimore to live with his sister. I called him. He could hardly remember me. It sounded like Dementia or Alzheimer's disease. I realized that all this time Borah's abusiveness might have been the escalation of the disease.

On October 18th 2012, Borah died. That same day I thought about him and said to myself I should call, I hope he's OK. A few hours later I got an email from Jim Eigo that he was gone.

Jason started a Facebook page for Borah and, surprisingly, hardly anyone has posted or made a comment. Musicians from all over the world would clamor to play with him and yet it's as if he's already forgotten. I haven't and I never will.

Although Borah was a lot to put up with it, it was always a thrill to play with him. There were times we talked about recording a CD together, but that never happened. It should have because it would have been a remarkable recording.

It is very rare to be in the mist of genius, but when you are, it is amazing. I am sad that he is gone. Because of him I am a better player and as hard as it was, I would do it all over again.

Goodbye Borah. Rest in peace.

Photo Credit

Scott Friedlander


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