Jazz at Atlas is presenting as part of its 2019 live concert series the innovative, criminally under-recognized bassoonist Karen Borca. The Karen Borca Quartet will perform on Saturday, October 5 at 8 p.m. at Atlas Studios, 11 Spring St., Newburgh. Ample onsite parking is available. Tickets are $25 at the door or $20 in advance — get them now at: karenborca.brownpapertickets.com.
At the University of Wisconsin in 1970-71, Borca studied with Cecil Taylor. She played in Taylor’s big bands, ensembles, and with the Cecil Taylor Unit, and was his assistant while he worked in the Black Music Program at Antioch College in Ohio.
She was an assistant to Taylor’s longtime collaborator, saxophonist Jimmy Lyons, while he was artist-in-residence at Bennington College in 1974. Borca and Lyons married, and she played in his ensemble until he died in 1986.
Jon Pareles of the New York Times wrote, “Borca is one of the jazz world’s very few bassoonists, and her style owes a lot to the modern tenor-saxophone tradition. But the tone of the bassoon makes Ms. Borca’s cascading arpeggios and clear high notes sound more plaintive and quizzical than they would on a saxophone.”
With decades of experience in the ensembles of such major artists as Taylor, Lyons and William Parker, among many others, Borca will lead a quartet of veteran creative musicians: Warren Smith on vibes, Hilliard Greene on bass and Newburgh’s own Jackson Krall on drums.
In 1976, Borca performed in a production of Adrienne Kennedy’s “A Rat’s Mass,” directed by Cecil Taylor at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in Manhattan. Musicians included Rashid Bakr, Andy Bey, David S. Ware, Raphe Malik, and Lyons. Taylor’s production combined the original script with a chorus of orchestrated voices used as instruments.
Borca has performed with her own ensembles at such festivals and concerts as the Newport Jazz Festival, Salute to Women in Jazz, Soundscape, Vision Festival, and Jazz Fest Berlin. She has performed in the United States and internationally, with musicians such as William Parker, Bill Dixon, Butch Morris, Marco Eneidi, Joel Futterman, Sonny Simmons and Alan Silva.