Featured Artists Concert Series
The Billy Higgins Legacy Band -The Tradition Continues
Headed up by renowned west coast jazz drummer, Myron Cohen, this concert promises to deliver some Classic Jazz Tunes, maybe a few originals and BOLDNESS will be served. Myron says, "For a portion of the audience that is not familiar with Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter or McCoy Tyner, hopefully our renditions will lead them to the source of this great Art Form."
Debuting at this concert is a recent configuration of the Billy Higgins Legacy Band: a straight-up trio of Lee Bloom on piano, Gary Brown on double bass and Myron Cohen on drums and -- in the spirit and tradition of the BHLB -- a special guest vocalist will be featured towards the end.
That 'special guest vocalist'?
None other than the incomparable Mr. Kenny Washington!
ABOUT MYRON COHEN:
As a baby sitting in a high chair, Myron Cohen astounded his mother by tapping out syncopated rhythms with his spoon. Progressing to a field drum by fourth grade, Cohen strapped on his drum daily and marched to school–even through the snowy Wisconsin winters. This self taught innate 'enthusiasm' led Cohen at fourteen years old to be hired as the drummer for The Mary Jay Trio, a very popular jazz group led by vocalist Mary Jaber who performed in clubs throughout Wisconsin in the 1950s and early 1960s. At fifteen, he spied an advertisement for the Slingerland Drum Co. sponsored Gene Krupa’s National Amateur Swing Drummers’ Contest and persuaded his high school buddy to ‘appropriate’ his aunt’s car to drive Cohen to Chicago so that he could enter the drum contest. Louie Bellson was the judge and Cohen ended up placing second out of about 300 drummers. What was most significant about this event–other than the consequences of taking the car–was the beginning of a lifelong friendship with Louie Bellson who recognized Cohen’s passion for the drums.
Moving on to his student years at University of Madison, Wisconsin, Cohen joined an R&B band, The Fabulous Imitations, featuring the renowned blues singer, Tracy Nelson. Nelson encouraged Cohen to move to San Francisco and from there he went on to play with such luminaries as Michael Bloomfield, John Lee Hooker, Otis Spann, Ron Stallings, Azar Lawrence, Ravi Coltrane, Donald 'Rafael' Garrett, Woody Shaw, Wayne Shorter, to name a few.
Major influences for Myron were Whether in sessions, live performances, recordings, or just informal jams, these musical experiences have given Cohen a huge vocabulary to share on the bandstand.
A San Francisco-based pianist, composer, arranger and producer, Lee has
worked with a variety of creative artists in many genres including
Madeleine Peyroux, Pete Escovedo, Hal Stein, Mary Stallings, Jonathan Poretz, Todd Phillips, Steve Heckman, Jamie Davis, and Dan Hicks among others.
As pianist, Lee contributed to the forthcoming tribute recording to bluegrass
icon Hazel Dickens, accompanying vocalists Elvis Costello, Rosanne Cash
and Madeleine Peyroux. The project is being produced by Todd Phillips.
Lee was also producer and pianist on "Spirit!" the 2006 release by saxophone
legend Hal Stein. In addition to leading his own trio and quintet, Lee performs
regularly as solo pianist and accompanies many instrumentalists and vocalists.
As a composer, Lee attempts to synthesize varied influences - from Bud Powell,
Ahmad Jamal, and Wayne Shorter to Modernist Architecture, Vaudeville,
Floyd Cramer and TV sitcoms.
Born into a family of musicians Gary Brown's inevitable musical career began at an early age. By his eleventh birthday Gary was already performing in jazz bands with his two brothers and his father, jazz trumpeter Wilbert Brown. Gary went on to form his own bands and develop a talent and reputation as a skilled and versatile bassist.While enrolled in San Jose State University's Art/Design program Gary came to realize that music was his true calling and made the decision to make it his life and his career. After leaving school he continued to study privately with the renowned Skip Parnell, a teacher and lecturer from the esteemed Philadelphia Academy of Music.
In the past 20 years Gary has toured extensively in the United States, Europe, Asia ,South America and the Middle East where he has recorded and shared the stage with Flora Purim & Airto, Pharaoh Sanders Jeff Beal, Steve Winwood, Narada Michael Walden, Dianne Reeves, Lou Rawls ,Ernie Watts,John Lucien, Torninho Horta , Eddie Henderson ,Joyce, Alex Acuna, Dori Caymmi, George Duke, Roy Ayres ,Oscar Castro Neves , Lyle Mays, Giovanni Hidalgo, Mike Shrieve, Paul McCandles, Alphonse Mouzon, Andy Narrell, Pete and Sheila (Sheile E.) Escovedo, Jose Neto Quartet. As a member of Terra Sul he composed and co-produced on their CD "Kindness of Strangers" (Motown jazz label MOJazz). In addition to the co-writing and arranging Gary also shares a producer credit with drummer Celso Alberti for recording artist Zaza's ambitious CD "Book of Kings".
Gary is one of the three members of Pray for Rain, a film and soundtrack production team whose credits include Sid & Nancy, Straight to Hell, Trust Me, Zandalee (with Judge Reinhold and Nicholas Cage) and The Linguini Incident (starring David Bowie). Their projects include work with famed Parliament keyboardist Bernie Worell on the movie Car 54 Where Are You? and the theme and dramatic underscore for the Fox television series Key West. They continue to compose underscore for various projects for the major cable networks including HBO, Lifetime, Showtime and Cinemax, as well as for the major television networks ABC, NBC and CBS.
Currently dividing his time perfoming with Flora Purim & Airto, Anamandara Trio and the Rebeca Mauleon Group, Gary continues to compose, perform and produce with various artists and is writing music for his first solo project.
About The Billy Higgins Legacy Band
The BHLB was conceived by Myron Cohen 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. In addition to playing music, Cohen also has a disarming talent as a raconteur and collector of jazz stories from his friendships in the jazz community. In the last few years of his life, drummer Billy Higgins gave a great deal to Cohen including some fascinating stories of his life and music. Billy understood Cohen’s commitment to mentoring young musicians–especially drummers–and arranged for Cohen to work with specific West Coast jazz musicians that would appreciate Cohen’s musicality.
"The thing is, Washington slays 'em wherever he performs. Standing not quite five-foot-two, he's an oversize talent who can scat with the harmonic daring and rhythmic command of a bebop saxophonist, croon with the simmering soul of Donny Hathaway, and interpret standards with such intelligence and emotional commitment it's like Rodgers and Hart wrote "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" with him in mind." -- Andrew Gilbert, eastbayexpress.com
Recently dubbed “the Superman of the Bay Area jazz scene” by the San Francisco Chronicle, Kenny Washington is a jazz virtuoso who thrills audiences with his soulful interpretations, seemingly limitless range, and rapid-fire scatting. Ravi Coltrane has declared Kenny his favorite male vocalist, and Mark Murphy said in a Jazz Times interview that Kenny was the only contemporary male vocalist carrying on the tradition.
ABOUT BILLY HIGGINS, Drummer
Los Angeles, California
May 3, 2001 (aged 64) Inglewood, California
Higgins was born in Los Angeles, California. Higgins played on Ornette Coleman's first records, beginning in 1958. He then freelanced extensively with hard bop and other post-bop players, including Donald Byrd, Dexter Gordon, Grant Green, Joe Henderson, Milt Jackson, Jackie McLean, Pat Metheny, Hank Mobley, Thelonious Monk, Lee Morgan, David Murray, Art Pepper, Sonny Rollins, Mal Waldron, and Cedar Walton. He was one of the house drummers for Blue Note Records and played on dozens of Blue Note albums of the 1960s.
In 1989, Higgins cofounded a cultural center, The World Stage, in Los Angeles to encourage and promote younger jazz musicians. The center provides workshops in performance and writing, as well as concerts and recordings. Higgins also taught in the jazz studies program at the University of California, Los Angeles.
He was divorced from wife Mauricina Altier Higgins and had three sons, William, Joseph, and David, as well as a stepson Jody. His youngest son Benjamin resides in Los Angeles. He also had two daughters, Rickie Wade and Heidi. He died of kidney and liver failure on May 3, 2001 at a hospital in Inglewood, California.
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