Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Borshuk, Thomas (Allan)

Borshuk, Thomas (Allan), pianist, composer; b.Windsor, Ontario, Canada, 11 February 1952; d. 3 July 1992.  Borshuk was introduced to music by chance as a child when he and his parents, Rose and Bill, moved into a new home whose previous owners had left behind a rickety piano in the basement.  Borshuk's interest in the instrument led to piano lessons throughout his childhood and adolescence.  As a teenager, he taught himself the guitar and performed in numerous rock bands.  During his late teens and early twenties, Borshuk became immersed in jazz study, returning to the piano full time.  He took up solo piano jobs and settled in as bandleader at the Top Hat nightclub in downtown Windsor, while working toward a BA in Music at the University of Windsor.  During this period, he married Leslee Richards (in 1973) and the couple had their first child, a son named Michael (in 1974).  The couple had a second child, a daughter, Jennifer, in 1980.

In the late 1970s, Borshuk joined Alexander Zonjic's electric ensemble as a keyboardist, a job he held for over a decade, and included recording sessions and frequent national and international appearances.  Throughout the 1980s, around his work with Zonjic, he pursued various other performing and composing projects. From 1982 to 1984, Borshuk was the music director and house pianist for the CBC television program, Jazz Unlimited, produced locally at CBET-TV.  The list of guest artists over the show's three-season run included Canadian performers like pianist Bernie Senensky and reedman Gerry Brannigan, as well as American musicians like guitarist Earl Klugh, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, and vibraphonist Jack Brokensha.  In the late 1980s and early 90s, Borshuk led a series of Sunday night jam sessions in Windsor, first at Serious Moonlight Cafe, and then at Tratieur's Bistro.  These sessions regularly featured Windsor musicians like saxophonist Ray Manzerolle (later a member of Earl Klugh's touring band), and Detroit players like saxophonist George Benson, percussionist Lorenzo Brown, and violinist Regina Carter, a frequent collaborator with Borshuk until her move to New York in the early 1990s.  As well, either as a member of Zonjic's group or by himself, Borshuk performed jobs in the 1980s and 1990s with keyboardist Bob James, saxophonist Kirk Whalum, reed player Moe Koffman, and vocalist Nnenna Freelon.

Borshuk died in 1992 from a brain aneurysm.  He is survived by his wife and children; as well as his father, Bill; his brother Chris (also a working pianist, and longtime president of the Windsor chapter of the American Federation of Musicians); and his sister Catherine.

Recordings, Broadcasts, and Films:
Wild Goose Jack (original film score, 1982); Jazz Unlimited (produced by CBET-TV, from 1982-1984); Scouts! (original film score, 1984); about 10 unissued tapes of live performances from 1987-1991, with Regina Carter, George Benson, Ray Manzerolle, Walter Smith, and others; "Salsa D'Ete" and "Promenade," two original instrumentals composed for French CBC radio, 1990, and featuring Regina Carter on violin; Numerous radio performances and interviews from 1988-1991, for CBE Radio, Windsor; With Alexander Zonjic: When Is It Real (1987), Elegant Evening (1988).

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