Home » Jazz Articles » A Pair From Saxophonist David Borgo


Multiple Reviews

A Pair From Saxophonist David Borgo


Sign in to view read count
When saxophonist David Borgo is not attending to his teaching duties at UC San Diego (Integrated Studies and Jazz Music of the African Diaspora Programs) he immerses himself in the art of jazz, recording and performing. He has released twelve CDs and he performs regularly in his adopted hometown, San Diego. Writing for All About Jazz, reviewer Frank Roboliino says of the artist: "Borgo has the history of music down pat...he touches on the past, teases with the future, but mainly speaks in the present tense."

This article will explore a pair of David Borgo's recordings.

Suite Of Uncommon Sorrows
psMENTUM Records

The first minute of Borgo's Suite For Uncommon Sorrows says "Modern Jazz." The tune is "Kuebiko," a complex, multi-layered composition. For comparison's sake, (always a risky business) early-career Herbie Hancock comes to mind— intricate sounds that contain a high engage-ability factor, full of terrific solos while maintaining a solid ensemble sound. Borgo's sax is warm, with an edge, full of unwavering assurance.

The music is a response to the turmoil of the events of 2020—the Covid-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter and political unrest. Borgo expresses the concerns with the help of the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, (Simon & Schuster, 2021), author John Koenig's compendium of words "Meant to give name to emotions we all have but don't yet have a word for." "Kuebiko," for example, refers to a state of moral exhaustion inspired by acts of horror that force us to revise our images of what happens in this world.

"Chrysalism," the word, refers to "the amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm." "Chrysalism," the composition, expresses this nicely, starting off in ballad territory and then ramping the sound up as that thunderstorm gathers momentum.

The range of human emotion knows no limits. Our words to describe them are inadequate. Borgo and his band give us a soundtrack to these universal but difficult-to-express feelings.

Cautiously Optimistic
psMENTUM Records

"Wayning Influence" opens Cautiously Optimistic. it is a post-bop burner, is a tip of the hat to Wayne Shorter and the "waning" influence of the pandemic. It features a tangy guitar solo by San Diego's Peter Sprague and some torrid tenor sax work by the leader. "Uphill Battle" settles into a gentler groove, with Borgo on soprano sax. This set is a follow-up to Suite Of Uncommon Sorrows. It says "All may not be right with the world, post-pandemic, but things do seem to improve." Borgo mixes his axes up throughout the set—soprano and tenor saxophones, an Irish flute, an alto clarinet, and wind synthesizer.

"Roland With The Times" is irrepressible, tipping the hat to Rahsaan Roland Kirk, sounding as if the times are good indeed, with a fine and lively bass solo from Justin Grinnell. Bass solos can be ho-hum at times, but it is not so with Grinnell, and some credit goes to drummer Julien Cantelm and pianist Alan Eicher for their deft comping.

"Kaleidoscope Eyes," a cerebral, approachable ballad with a psychedelic vibe takes its inspiration from The Beatle's "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," with a great arrangement, the leader, Grinnell and Peter Sprague taking solo turns.

The music, full of positive vibes, serves as hope for a better world.

Tracks and Personnel

Suite Of Uncommon Sorrows

Tracks: Kuebiko; Chrysalism; Kenopsia; Liberosis; Paro; Ochiolism; One Step Forward Two Steps Back; The Village Covidiots; Gnossienne; Zenosyne; Gugulethu.

Personnel: David Borgo: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone (4, 8); Tobin Chodos: piano, keyboard (9); MacKenzie Leighton: acoustic bass, electric bass (9); Mark Ferber: drum set; King Britt: electronics (9).

Last Dance

Tracks: Waying Influence; Uphill Battle; Cautiously Optimistic; Roland With The Times; Yet Another Year; Down the Rabbit Hole; Kaleidoscope Eyes; Perhaps; Escher Steps; Still I Rise.

Personnel: David Borgo: tenor and soprano saxophones; concert bass, Irish flutes; alto clarinet; wind synthesizer; Peter Sprague: acoustic and electric guitars; Alan Eicher: piano; Justin Grinnell: contrabass; Julien Cantelm: drum set.

Post a comment

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



Gard Nilssen's Supersonic Orchestra
Christopher McBride
Beyond Orbits
Miho Hazama's M_Unit


Double Portrait
Giuseppe Millaci and the Vogue Trio
Afro Futuristic Dreams
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids
Dynamic Maximum Tension
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society

On the record

Vibes on a Breath
Ted Piltzecker
Jonathan Karrant
Brazilian Match
Luiz Millan
Double Portrait
Giuseppe Millaci and the Vogue Trio

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.