Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Borca, Karen

Borca, Karen, bassoonist; b. Green Bay, WI, 5 September 1948. The family moved to Iron Belt, Wisc. when she was about 9 months old. She studied music with her mother, a schoolteacher who played and taught classical and stride piano.

She played alto saxophone for ten years and began bassoon in high school, continuing at the U. of Wisconsin where Alec Wilder and members of the N.Y. Woodwind Quintet encouraged her to go to N.Y. to study before returning to Wisconsin where she completed her B.M. with education certification in 1971. In the 70-71 school year Cecil Taylor taught there and she played in and assisted with his big band. In 1971-3 she was teaching assistant to Taylor at Antioch College, rehearsing student groups, and she has since performed with him in various contexts. She met Lyons through Taylor at Antioch. She taught music in public schools in 72 in Antioch, and in NYC on a part time basis since 74.

In the fall of 1974 she was assistant to Jimmy Lyons at Bennington College, notating and rehearsing his works, followed by their marriage and over 12 years touring and recording with Lyons (he died in May 1986). She has also led her own groups since 1972.

Borca played in Berlin Fest 1998 with Rob Brown, Ibarra and two basses, and in Finland October 98; also with Brown, Workman and Aklaff in Switzerland March 99. She was interviewed on WKCR-FM, May 11, 1998.

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