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David Borgo

David Borgo started playing alto saxophone at the age of 8. He had formative jazz experiences growing up in the Washington D.C. area, and went on to earn his B.M. in Jazz Studies at Indiana University, under the tutelage of renown jazz educator David N. Baker.

After graduation, David began touring widely, and his travel experiences in Turkey, Israel, Morocco, and more, sparked an interest in "world music" and the academic field of Ethnomusicology. He went on to earn M.A. and Ph.D. degress in the field from UCLA, studying with one of the world's preeminent Ethnomusicology faculty.

While in graduate school in Los Angeles, David performed in a wide variety of musical settings, leading his own jazz groups, and playing everything from Swing and Latin jazz, to Balkan music and Free Improvisation. In 1994, at the age of 24, David won the International John Coltrane Competition.

After earning his Ph.D. in 1999, David taught for two years at James Madison University in Virginia. Since that time he has been on the faculty at the University of California San Diego, where his is now a Full Professor of Music, teaching in the Integrative Studies graduate program and Jazz and Music of the African Diaspora undergraduate program.

David has released fourteen CDs and one DVD of original music on a variety of record labels, including Cadence Jazz, Resurgent Music, pfMENTUM, OA2 Records, and Circumvention Music. He has been fortunate to perform in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North, Central, and South America. He has also had the priviledge of learning from, and performing alongside, many of the greatest jazz musicians, including: David Liebman, Herbie Hancock, Billy Higgins, Kenny Burrell, Gerald Wilson, Harold Land, Snooky Young, George Lewis, Evan Parker, Sam Rivers, John Tchicai, Anthony Davis, and Mark Dresser.

In addition to performing his original jazz compositions with his own ensembles, David performs electro-acoustic improvisation in the duo KaiBorg (with Jeff Kaiser) and intricate polyrhythmic music with Kronomorfic (with Paul Pellegrin).


First Place, 1994 International John Coltrane Competition

Alan Merriam Prize from the Society For Ethnomusicology for his book Sync or Swarm, 2006 (now available in revised edition, 2022, Bloomsbury Academic Publishing)


David plays on vintage Selmer, Conn, and Beuscher saxophones, most often with a Rafael Navarro Bop Boy tenor mouthpiece and a Soprano Planet Missing Link mouthpiece on soprano saxophone. He also performs on a variety on non-Western and custom wind instruments and wind sythesizers, often with live electronic processing in his duo KaiBorg.


Album Review
Multiple Reviews
Album Review
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Borgo has the history of the music down pat... He touches on the past, teases with the future, but mainly speaks in the present tense. – Frank Rubolino, All About Jazz "His music is often incredibly kaleidoscopic and diverse, embracing a huge range of aesthetics." –Jazz Corner There's a wonderful energy running throughout ... This is great music played with passion by great players. – Michael Bettine, Jazz Now ... [a] modernist with a large record collection, big ears, and like-minded colleagues. – Stuart Kremsky, Cadence On soprano Borgo weaves delicate patterns across the music, while on other tracks he sets a classic big-hearted tenor sound in dialogue with avantgarde spikiness

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