Vita Brevis represents maverick pianist Borah Bergman's last session before his death at age 85 in 2013. In the liners label boss Joe Chonto speculates that Bergman suffered from undiagnosed Aspberger's syndrome. As such it's perhaps not a surprise that he found his niche in outsider music--the jazz avant-garde. However his musical ability was never in doubt, given his remarkable facility to simultaneously pursue separate lines at length with each hand. On this date he's surrounded by other elder statesmen of the scene capable of following the pianist wherever he roams. NOLA saxophonist Kidd Jordan's uncompromising career stretches ...read more
Up until eleven years ago I had never heard of Borah Bergman. Priding myself on being aware of many of the avant players and being a devout fan of pianist Cecil Taylor, I should have known about Borah, but I didn't.Many of my early public performing years were devoted to playing straight-ahead and then to an inside-out approach, and when I thought it was time, I went headfirst into the avant-garde. Although many of my musical friends knew about my avant-gardisim, I pretty much kept it under wraps for years, fearing it would put me out of work.read more
Prologue | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7Areni Agbabian, Lorenzo Sanguedolce, Go-Zee-Lah Reggie Nicholson, Borah Bergman, Ned Rothenberg Mark Helias, Tony Malaby, Charles GayleVision FestivalAbrons Arts CenterNew York CityJune 26, 2010Saturday was a long day at the Vision Festival, starting in the afternoon with a series of shows by relative newcomers in the Emerging Artists segment and then, after a brief hiatus, continuing with a full night's program. For those with the appetite, between those times there ...read more
Borah Bergman/Giorgio DiniOne More TimeSilta2008 Borah BergmanLuminescenceTzadik2008 Superficially, it appears that free improvisation and ensemble jazz are disparate styles. However, both require patience, timing, musical intelligence, a strong ear and imagination. On a pair of new releases pianist Borah Bergman shows dexterous handling of each. Bergman and bassist Giorgio Dini meet on the high-wire for One More Time, an album of spontaneous invention that challenges the players and their listeners as ...read more
The piano-bass-drums trio has become such a staple of jazz recording that it must be difficult for any trio to come up with something fresh. Borah Bergman and his crew accomplish this task, and whilst their work lacks the compositional integrity of the holy trinity of Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols, and Andrew Hill, there's enough substance here to allay fears of cocktail lounge anonymity.
Bergman has technique to spare but it's to his credit that he's not in the business of applying it to the maximum all the time. Truth is, one of the elements that contribute greatly to the ...read more
The number of piano/reeds/percussion trios in the history of improvised music can probably be counted on a single hand, but some of them have been highly influential. Cecil Taylor's trio recorded such a set in 1962 at the Café Montmartre in Copenhagen, the entrée into free percussion beginning with Sunny Murray's fragmented bebop impulsions as Taylor and alto foil Jimmy Lyons expanded upon Bud and Bird, even as tradition became so much mincemeat. Saxophonist Evan Parker, pianist Alex von Schlippenbach and percussionist Paul Lovens expanded on the format in an often brutal but utterly sublime approach to collective musical craftsmanship. ...read more
Borah Bergman is a one-of-a-kind pianist, composer and improviser whose originality lies in his entirely unique approach and utilization of left-handed and cross-handed techniques. Influenced by Lennie Tristano's hornlike phrasing and Monk's stride, Bergman has prolifically released on average one to two CDs a year since the early '90s (primarily solos and duos) featuring Thomas Chapin, Roscoe Mitchell, Oliver Lake, Evan Parker, Anthony Braxton and Peter Brötzmann. Last month, AAJ-New York caught up with Bergman at his Upper West Side apartment. All About Jazz: You have a unique two-handed technique. Speak of your left hand, your crossed hand ...read more
Naked confrontation, or a pact made between two individuals to make something from nothing... freely improvised duets are, if not the meat and potatoes" or backbone of free music, then at least one of the truest expressions of such an art form. A dialogue formed between two individuals, each with their own language, is that call-and-response vaguely outlined somewhere in Sister Sadie" but run through the process of as if one's life depended on it." Such an encounter is that which occurred between pianist Borah Bergman and the late saxophonist Thomas Chapin in June 1997 at the du Maurier Downtown ...read more
On The Mahout, three well established musicians meet, almost for the first time, and produce an album from thin air. Yes, this is free improvisation in the age of instancy, but this is still a remarkably spontaneous product. According to the brief liner notes, the trio met for a beer, then recorded the next morning. Evidently it was only one beer—these men are no college kids, and the music reveals no trace of hangover. The title track, if anything, might induce hangover-like feelings in the uninitiated listener, and would have most likely drained lesser players, but Bergman, Haslam and Hession ...read more
In a day and age of recording over-saturation, most covering too much ground over the course of a 70-plus minute CD, Bergman’s Meditations for Piano remains focused on a massaging mood established from note one to the final minute-and-half “Meditation 7,” all in under 50 very digestible minutes. Influenced early on by Lennie Tristano, Bud Powell, Monk, and the classical works of Charles Ives, Bergman has unjustifiably been compartmentalized as a Cecil Taylor-esque player. Comfortable playing melodies and right-hand parts with his left hand, as well as a convincing use of a unique cross-handed style, he is ...read more
Death creeps upon us all. Thomas Chapin knew that rather well when in 1997 he appeared at Toronto's Du Maurier Downtown Jazz Festival with Borah Bergman. Dying on stage of leukemia, Chapin exhaled massively fractious and powerful liveliness from reeds and flute nonetheless. There are numerous struggles, limitations and even some clear misses in his performance; even so, those instances simply meld beyond recognition, as Bergman is a veritable musical pararescue trooper. He can carry both to the end of the mission, or to paraphrase the U.S. Air Force pararescuemen's motto, the pianist performed so that Chapin may live.
Three distinguished proponents of the jazz-based avant-garde, or new music, scene converge for a somewhat frenetic encounter of musical minds on The River Of Sounds. Pianist Borah Bergman's Cecil Taylor-like excursions are enhanced and personalized by his acute sense of rhythm, inquisitive statements, intervallic leaps, and gargantuan block chords. On the sixteen-minute opener titled Jim," the pianist commences the agenda with a simply stated, three-chord progression, while his musical cohorts accelerate the momentum with eruptive dialogue. The trio frequently alters the ebb and flow with fluctuating overtures and verbose extrapolations. However, one of the appealing factors of this project resides ...read more
Borah Bergman plies his unique off-kilter lyricism here in the company of Oliver Lake, who shares his ability to deflect melodic progressions into unexpected areas. This particular duo combination can set off as many sparks as one might expect: many of the tracks contain a good deal of pedal-to-the-floor intensity, but there is more than just full-throttle pounding here.
However, especially toward the beginning of the disc, during the track entitled I kiss your eyes," Lake seems to be prodding Bergman to go full throttle, but Bergman won't (at least at first) be prodded. After a few multiphonic cries that ...read more
New York based modern jazz pianist Borah Bergman and alto-soprano saxophonist Oliver Lake go at it in a series of highly interactive duets recorded “Live at the Knitting Factory”.
On “A New Organization” the duo provide plenty of expressive dialogue and seemingly intuitive improvisations while Oliver Lake, a long-standing member of the World Saxophone Quartet revisits his avant-garde roots on this project. Bergman’s enterprising and thoroughly interesting piano exercises reside within the Cecil Taylor or Fred Van Hove school; however, his vigorous yet flexible approach carries an identifiable stamp of control and individualism. Lake and Bergman run through various motifs, ...read more
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