Borgmann began his career in the early 1980s, working mainly with the Berlin Art Ensemble with Nick Steinhaus (participating in the 1981 South American tour for the Goethe-Institut and the 1982 Nickelsdorfer Konfrontationen).
He went on to the Sirone Sextet in New York in 1987.
He also spent some time playing with the Hidden Quartet (with Dietmar Diesner, Erik Balke, and Jonas Akerblom), and the Noise & Toys (with Valery Dudkin, Sascha Kondraschkin).
In 1991 Borgmann founded the Orkestra Kith 'n Kin, bringing together Hans Reichel, John Tchicai, Pat Thomas, Jay Oliver, Mark Sanders, and Lol Coxhill, amongst others.
A year later came Ruf der Heimat, which included Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky (Ruf der Heimat, 1995) and Peter Brötzmann (Machine Kaput, 1996, both Konnex).
Borgmann has taken part in trio Blue Zoo, with Peter Brötzmann and Borah Bergman (Ride into the Blue, 1996 and Blue Zoo, 1997, both Konnex).
Throughout 1984, and continuing until 1996, he also organized the STAKKATO festival in Berlin.
In 1995 Borgmann began working with Wilber Morris and Denis Charles, forming the BMC-Trio. After Charles' death in 1998, Borgmann and Morris teamed with Reggie Nicholson creating the "BMN-Trio", which continued performing until 2002.
Borgmann also participated in the quartet Alliance with Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, DJ Jayrope, and Michael Griener.
Borgmann and Brötzmann meet the New York rhythm team of William Parker and Rashid Bakr on Cooler Suite (2003, Grob).
Initially teaming with Tony Buck, and Joe Williamson, Borgmann formed the trio "Boom Box", releasing their album Jazz in 2011.
He continues to perform with the group, now playing with Willi Kellers and Akira Ando.
He also continues to tour international Jazz festivals around the world.
During his career, Borgmann has taken part in concerts, tours, and recordings with artists including Peter Brötzmann, Borah Bergman, Paul Lovens, Tony Buck, Paul Lytton, Evan Parker, John Tchicai, Conny Bauer, Johannes Bauer, Charles Gayle, Heinz Sauer, Lol Coxhill, Phil Minton, William Parker, Jason Hwang, Thurston Moore, Shoji Hano, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Rashied Bakr, Roy Campbell, Perry Robinson, Kip Hanrahans Latin Groove, and Jean-Paul Bourelly.
Thomas Borgmann has twice been the recipient of the Berlin Jazz-Grant, first in 1994, and again in 1996.
- Orkestra Kith'N Kin (1995), with Hans Reichel, Lol Coxhill, Dietmar Diesner, Mark Sanders, Martin Mayes, Pat Thomas, Eric Balke, Jonas Ackerblom, and Christoph Winckel, Cadence Jazz Records, (USA)
- Machine Kaput (1996), with Peter Brötzmann, Willi Kellers, and Christoph Winckel, as Ruf der Heimat
- Cooler Suite (1997), with Brötzmann, William Parker, and Rashied Bakr
- 'BMN Trio ...You See What We Sayin’? (1999), with Wilber Morris and Reggie Nicholson, CIMP, (USA)
- Live at Tunnel (2000), BMN-Trio (with Wilber Morris and Reggie Nicholson), Qbico Records (Italy)
- The Last Concert (2000), with Wilber Morris and Denis Charles, Silkheart Records, (USA)
- boom box — jazz (2011), boom box (with Willi Kellers and Akira Ando), jazzwerkstatt (Germany)
There are two known documentary movies out I'm involved in:
Denis Charles: An interupted Conversation by Vèronique N. Doumbè (75 minutes)
Inside Out In The Open by Alan Roth (90 minutes)
> Telling a story in a song without words has been the natural domain of the saxophone, especially in the hands of an expert such as Borgmann.
To succeed he would need a sound to die for and an ability to instil in a song, some kind of authentic sentiment drawn from the possibility of the absent words.
The saxophonist is blessed with a combination of prodigious wind-playing attributes – dare one say brooding, Germanic – approach to phrasing, quite astonishingly outstanding intonation and a sound which is open and honest, even and focussed on all registers.<
Raul da Gama (9'2016, jazzdagama.com)
>Thomas Borgmann's description of himself as a 'saxofonromanticist' encapsulates his relationschip to these strands in free music's evolution. Borgmann's assumption of the Romantic mantle cuts both way.
In fulfilling the Romantic agenda of breaking down music's established canons, of investing an intrinsic, trancendental meaning to music, and to tie his concepts to corresponding ideas in literaturem, visual arts and philosophy, he blurs the destinction between what is deformative and what is reformative in present-day free music.
When Borgmann cuts through the brays and thunderclaps with a solidly Coltranish cycle of fourths, it is ambiguous whether he is introducing a reformative element, or a deformative pastiche.
Borgmann's previeous activities confirm he has an excellent vantage from which to pursue such an agenda.<
Bill Shoemaker (JAZZ-TIMES)
> The impressive Borgmann has a furry, round sound and great energy.<
Down Beat, USA
>If you don’t know Thomas Borgmann’s name, you’ll remember it after hearing him. His very linear but wholly free approach to his horn recalls the great Sun Ra Arkestra saxophonist, John Gilmore<
(Larry Nai, JAZZIZ, USA, 1’99)
>He is a powerful, imaginative player< (JAZZ TIMES, USA, 9’98)
>It’s hard to think of anyone who sounds quite like him<
(John Chacona, Erie Paper,USA, 10’98)
>This guy knocks my socks off<
(Walt Davis, INSIDE the OUTSIDE, USA, 10’98)
>All blues implications aside, the German saxofonist can really take it to the physical limit, with stretched out, fullbodied, scalar runs.
Yet, both his Orkestra Kith n' Kin and his current project prove he can ease up on the throttle and keep it simple with emotionally stirring, tenor laments, that would feel at home on the Impulse roster from the mid-sixties.<
(Signal to Noise No.16)
>He has power, passion, technique, and range. His playing is exciting and multi-faceted. There is a variety to be found in his solos that often escapes other talented sax players. Most of what emerges from his lips has the aura of the timeless classic about it<
(Walter Horn, CADENCE Jazz Magazin, USA, 8’98)
>A Wild Melancholic<
(Neu-Ulmer Zeitung, BRD, 5’98)
>Borgmann blew tenor & soprano over all evolutions’ circumstances of musical power of feeling<
(Lübecker Nachrichten, BRD, 5’98)
>His stamina is to be applauded<
>A Blowing Bundle Of Energy< (Münstersche Zeitung)
>Borgmann made everyone prick up their ear's and listen attentively. His powerful strenght, full forced saxofone playing and ability to bring about a change.<
>From the beginning Thomas Borgmann has struck me as such an artist: he's directed, passionate, bold and abitious<
(Bob Rusch, CADENCE)
>Thomas Borgmann blies heerlich verspielte, lyrische Chorusse auf dem Tenor und dem Sopran, ließ es pfeifen und raunzen.<
(Südwest Presse 13.3.'98)
>...wurde Borgmann dichter, zupackender, schreiender, um schließlich in die hymnische Intensität des späten Coltrane oder eines Pharoah Sanders zu münden.<
(Raimund Kast, Schwäbische Zeitung vom 18.3.98)
>...auf dem Sopransax bewegte sich Borgmann in ausladenden Improvisationen und mit vollem, warmen Ton, auf von John Coltrane vorgezeichneten Spuren. In ekstatischen Momenten lüpft er eine Ecke des Vorhangs zu einer anderen Welt.<
(Michael Scheiner, Passauer Nachrichten 10.11.97)
>Thomas Borgmann spielte lyrisch, sensibler und mit mehr hymnischen Gestus als Brötzmann<
(Südwest Presse, 3.2.98)
>Wenn der FREE JAZZ eine Stilistik oder Schule ist, dann gehört heute zu seinen aufstrebensten Schülern und Protagonisten der deutsche Saxofonist Thomas Borgmann<
(Hans Falb im Newsletter 5, Nickelsdorf, Oktober '97)
>Gewaltige, totale, fieberhafte Energie. Peter Brötzmann und Thomas Borgmann laden damit ihre Saxofone auf. sie richten sich sofort auf den Höhepunkt ein. Sie erklimmen ihn nicht, sie sind bereits da.<
(LE MONDE 9'95, Titelseite)
>Borgmann blies Tenor & Soprano über alle Evolutionzustände musikalischer Empfindungskraft<
(Lübecker Nachrichten 5’98)