Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Short George A. Borgman Biography

George Allan Borgman was a well known musicologist, jazz journalist, and contributing editor and columnist for The Mississippi Rag and other jazz magazines.

George earned a Bachelor of Music degree from St. Louis Institute of Music, and received a Master's degree in musicology from Indiana University, Bloomington. George played clarinet and saxophone with a few touring Midwestern bands in 1946 including Larry Tice's and Jack Everett's Orchestras.

He then joined the army at the end of 1946 and served as part of the Army of Occupation in Germany where he also played in the Army band in Heidelberg. Upon his release from the service he began touring again as a musician joining up with Jack Staulcup's Orchestra in 1950 with whom he also recorded several sides.

George became a high school band teacher and chorus director in Colorado in 1953 and in 1955 was working in Lovelock, Nevada, where he met his future wife Janet Claire Ferroli, from Boston, who was also a teacher. They were married on February 27, 1957 and moved to New York.

He began taking classes in television production at the School of Radio Technique, and subsequently began working as a lighting assistant on the Drew Pearson and Quentin Reynolds television documentaries. He quickly moved into film editing. By 1958, he was a film editor and cameraman at the NBC affiliate in Columbia, Missouri KOMU.

In September 1958, George decided to go back into the army entering the Counter Intelligence Corps and began taking classes at the Intelligence School, at Fort Holabird, Maryland. He was assigned to a CIC unit in West Berlin where he worked mostly in civilian clothes. George spent a year in the Republic of Vietnam and retired with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 3 in 1979. In the early 1980s, he worked five years as a personnel security specialist for the Department of the Military in Alexandria, Virginia from 1981 to 1984.

He began freelancing as a sportswriter for a group of local newspapers in the Boston area. He continued covering sporting events for six years and in 1988, began writing stories for jazz periodicals concentrating mostly on ragtime and traditional jazz. He did also write about big bands, bebop, swing and modern jazz.

George wrote hundreds of reviews, articles and columns for such periodicals as the IAJRC Journal, Cadence Magazine, Joslin's Jazz Journal, TJ Today as well as The Mississippi Rag, for which he was a contributing editor and wrote a monthly column, "Yankee Jazz Beat" from 1992 up until the newspaper closed down in 2009 upon the death of its founder Leslie Johnson.

He was well known within the jazz community for his many reviews, in-depth articles on the history of jazz and on various jazz musicians as well as his monthly column. George wrote liner notes for several jazz artists and bands including the Back Bay Ramblers, Stan McDonald and His Blue Horizon Jazz Band and British boogie-woogie pianist Neville Dickie.

He wrote articles covering the annual Hot Steamed Jazz Festival in Connecticut, and on Tommy Benford, Ruby Braff, Al Casey, Buzzy Drootin, Chuck Folds, Stan Kenton, Joseph Lamb, Marie Marcus, and Stan McDonald as well as scores of others. He was voted in the top 12 of jazz critics in a 1990s poll by JazzBeat Magazine.

George was working on a book about the Casa Loma Orchestra when he died after a short illness. At the end of his funeral Mass on October 30, 2009 several famous jazz musicians performed a traditional jazz send off. John Clark and Stan McDonald played clarinet, Jeff Hughes was on trumpet and Ross Petot played the piano.


  1. What about his first wife and their daughter?

  2. What about them? If you noticed this is specifically highlighting his professional career. None of his children are mentioned, only his wife of over fifty years is included in this piece. Why you think his first wife to whom he was married briefly, which was in his words, "the most unhappy four years of my life," should be mentioned here is beyond me.