Hudson View Garden's Sundays at 5" concert series
Dec.17th at 5pm
The performance Lounge at Hudson View Gardens is located in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan at 183rd St. and Pinehurst just north of the George Washington Bridge, one block west of Ft.Washington Ave. (closest subway stop is the A" Train to 181st St./Ft.Washington Ave.) For more info. and reservations call 212-568-9628. Tickets are $12.
The near-80 year old Brooklyn-born Borah Bergman is one of the most singleminded and unique pianists in the history of jazz. Crediting Bud Powell as well as Art Tatum's dexerity, Teddy Wilson (with whom he briefly studied), Lennie Tristano's hornlike phrasing, and Thelonious Monk's stride as his main pianistic influences - he has consciously and uniquely emphasized equality between his left and right hands epitomized by frequent cross-handed playing. Influenced also by chamber music and Bach, and Dixieland/New Orleans where all of the instruments play contrapuntally and polyphonically, Bergman has created a style which allows him to improvise differently than any other pianist in the history of jazz.
Though he didn't play piano until he was in his 20s - he was well into his 40s for his 1975 recording debut (Discovery, Chiaroscuro Records) for which he played the same piano Earl Fatha" Hines had played and recorded on earlier that day in the studio - Bergman has always been determined to create a new way of playing. He spent several years teaching his left hand to be able to play everything his right could play, which for a while took the form of compositions and improvisations entirely for the left hand. He was also inspired by the example of John Coltrane's Chasin' the Trane" to build a style of great endurance, and by the music of Ornette Coleman, and to have that style reflect a greater equality of its parts. He has credited his parent's left-wing beliefs for these ideas of equality inherent in his even-handed, ambidextrous approach.
Regularly hailed for his originality, Bergman continues to forge a new pianistic path as a one-of-a-kind pianist, composer and improviser whose originality lies in his entirely personal approach and utilization of left-handed and cross-handed techniques. In essence he has created an almost altogether new role for the left hand setting him aside from other improvising piano players - and he has prolifically released on average one to two CDs a year since the early '90s. Though he worked sporadically as a solo artist in the early part of his recording career as his first four releases were solo piano, he eventually found acclaim and was recorded more frequently when he began playing duos with the likes of multi-instrumentalists Thomas Chapin, Roscoe Mitchell, Oliver Lake, Evan Parker, Anthony Braxton and Peter Brtzmann, as well as a host of drummers including Hamid Drake and Andrew Cyrille.
His solo performances are rare and his Meditations for Solo Piano reflects Bergman at his finest and most down-to-earth.
Bergman in his own words:
I saw that originality is the great equalizer. It cuts through everything, through all the impediments in the way...I decided to do something that nobody else was doing...[and became] consumed with developing the left hand."
The left hand was very important with the stride pianists and ragtime, and the Swing pianists had a certain approach. But I wanted a left hand that knew, that could play like the right hand plays with phrasing. And I felt that it was just a matter of any idiot can do it" - it's just that I was the only idiot doing it [laughs]!
I knew there was no point in sounding almost as good as Bud Powell!"
The left hand [is] a perfect vehicle for me...I get these impulses. In order for my impulses to come out, I need a recovery act and the left hand would always recover quickly and make things correct... I take a lot of chances and if you take a lot of chances you could fall on your face, but the left hand would always come and help me out. You can be disorganized, but if you can organize your disorganization, then you're organized [laughs] ... organized chaos."
Leftie, rightie, whatever you're doing, it's what you say that's important. If you've got something to say, it works. If you have nothing to say, it doesn't."
* Borah Bergman - Discovery (Chiaroscuro, 1975)
* Borah Bergman - The Human Factor (Soul Note, 1992)
* Borah Bergman - Reflections on Ornette Coleman and the Stone House (Soul Note, 1995)
* Borah Bergman/Thomas Chapin - Toronto 1997 (Boxholder, 1997)
* Borah Bergman - Meditations for Piano (Tzadik, 2003)
* Borah Bergman/Lol Coxhill/Paul Hession - Acts of Love Mutable Music, 2003)