Drummer Myron Cohen carries the spirit of the late Billy Higgins into the present day, with joy and a propulsive, irresistible beat.Â In the countless iterations of his Billy Higgins Legacy Project, he honors the mentoring he received by the late great drummer Higgins with his own mentoring of many, many brilliant emerging players, taken under his wing in a burning desire to be true to Higginsâ€™ spirit. Today, he performs with the young saxophonist Peyton Pleninger in an hour-long duo interplay.
Peyton Pleninger, a tenor saxophonist, improviser, bandleader and conceptualist still in his twenties, has forged a personal path that challenges the boundaries of what it means to be a musician. His experience involves a variety of disciplines centered around music, which also includes astrology, painting and sculpture, botany, construction, massage and medical inquiry.
Pleninger worked as a mentee of Milford Graves, from spring 2019 until Gravesâ€™ passing in early 2021, assisting daily in multi-disciplinary efforts. Summer 2019 focused on botany and garden work, which evolved into constructing a greenhouse in the winter that year. 2020 began with focus around conducting and documenting various scientific experiments around sound, vibration and cardiology, which led to constructing sculptures demonstrating some of the concepts discovered. Pleninger played an integral role in helping Graves prepare artwork and archival materials for his retrospective exhibit Milford Graves: A Mind Body Deal at the ICA Philadelphia, as well as for the post-humous exhibits Heart Harmonics: Sound, Energy and Natural Healing Phenomena at the Fridman Gallery and Milford Graves: Fundamental Frequency at Artistâ€™s Space.
Born on April 7, 1996 just outside of Philadelphia, Pleninger began playing piano at age 4. A hand-me-down tenor saxophone and exposure to the recordings of John Coltrane set Pleninger on a lifelong journey to improvise at the highest level. In his last two years of high school, he studied with Anthony Tidd through the Kimmel Center Creative Music Program, and met Steve Coleman, who Pleninger followed relentlessly, attending performances and workshops in Philadelphia, NYC, and Detroit.
On his arrival in New York City in 2015, Pleninger formed the first iteration of his band Biotonic. In its infancy, Biotonic explored the relationship of sound on the human experience and physiology through original compositions, and later evolved to explore moment music by juggling spontaneous and predetermined material. Biotonic has performed throughout NYC at such venues as The 55 Bar, The Jazz Gallery and Seeds Brooklyn, and has released a live album: alive (2019), and two EPâ€™s: intro::extro (2016) and Heartbeat Music (2017).
In 2020, Pleninger collaborated with Brooklyn based photographer and sustainability specialist Alison Schuettinger to build 5 Sets of Solos and Duos, an outdoor series of music and movement performances with emphasis on community building in balance with nature.
In 2021, Pleninger traveled to Long Beach Washington to record his first solo album, Post Human Folk Dances, released in 2022. The album was recorded remote, in various locations around Long Beach, and explores different imagined dance styles through Pleningerâ€™s signature setup of saxophone augmented with bells.
Pleninger also works as a dedicated side-person with multiple music projects. He has performed with Henry Threadgill as part of the multimedia works â€œOneâ€ and â€œThe Other One.â€ He plays in John Benitezâ€™ Latin-Bop, a modern latin-jazz group, performing weekly at Terraza 7 in Queens and monthly at Fat Cat in Manhattan. He plays with Roy Ben Yosefâ€™s Moringa trio, an Israel-based group focused on improvisation, which released its debut record Moringa and the Watershed in February 2021. Pleninger plays in drummer/composer Colin Hintonâ€™s Glassbath, an electric band straddling post rock and free jazz, which released its self-titled inaugural album February 2018. Pleninger performs with drummer/composer Michel Maurerâ€™s Meridian, a forward-thinking jazz-rooted quartet, which released its debut record The Shape of Noon in 2019. In summer 2017, Pleninger toured Canada for 5 weeks with guitarist Quinn Bachandâ€™s Brishen, an acoustic band honoring the tradition of gypsy jazz and the roots of rock n roll. Highlight performances include the Toronto Jazz Festival, Montreal International Jazz Festival, and CBC Canada.Â https://peytonpleninger.com/index.html
Myron Cohen has played with major artists including Michael Bloomfield, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Otis Spann, Ron Stallings, Azar Lawrence, Ravi Coltrane, Donald â€˜Rafaelâ€™ Garrett, Woody Shaw, and Wayne Shorter â€“ to name a few. Â But his most significant connection may have been with drummer Higgins, who gave a great deal to Cohen including some fascinating stories of his life and music. Â Billy understood Cohenâ€™s commitment to mentoring young musicians, and arranged for Cohen to work with specific West Coast jazz musicians that would appreciate Cohenâ€™s musicality. It is in the spirit of Billyâ€™s musical mentoring that The Billy Higgins Legacy Band was formed, and it continues to evolve with Cohen as the leader. Â Cohen conceived this band in response to his own experience of musical mentoring by master drummers Louie Bellson, Elvin Jones, Buddy Rich, John Rae, Dave Black, Sonny Freeman, Buddy Miles, Subash Chandran, Ed Thigpen, Billy Hart, George Brown, and most notably the late, great, Billy Higgins. Â Please join us at Bird & Beckett to share the joy and musicality of a wonderful drummer, and the duo format interplay with Peyton Pleninger this evening.
Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.
The BBCLP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit...
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Gigging musicians! You have nothing to lose but your lack of a collective voice to achieve fair wages for your work!
The IMA can be a conduit for you, if you join in to make it work.
Read more here - Andy Gilbert's Feb 25 article about the IMA from KQED's site