Born in Newark, NJ and growing up in the NY area, Tom began playing drums at the age of seven and eventually studied with drummer jazz great Tony Williams while still in high school (‘71-‘72). While attending George Washington University (‘72-‘75), Tom was invited into the Howard University Big Band under the direction of Donald Byrd.
Upon moving to Philadelphia in the late 1970’s he immediately became involved in the jazz scene, joining the established fusion group Catalyst, led by saxophonist Odean Pope. Since then he has worked with a myriad of jazz luminaries such as saxophonists Larry McKenna, Bootsie Barnes, Frank Tiberi, Ralph Bowen,, Seamus Blake, Joe Ford, trumpeters Johnny Coles and John Swana, organ great Shirley Scott, pioneering pianist Uri Caine, bassist Charles Fambrough, and guitarists Ben Monder and Dave Stryker. He has also worked with internationally known artists Chris Potter, Arnett Cobb, Ernie Watts, George Garzone, Bob Brookmeyer and Dave Schnitter. Tom has also performed with electric jazz artists such as guitarists Glenn Alexander and Jef Lee Johnson and bassists Dave LaRue and Victor Bailey. He was an integral member of the Soul Survivors in the 1980’s and the Brazilian group, Minas, through the 1990’s. He is currently active gigging, touring and recording with the Middle-East/Fusion band, Klingon Klez. In 2005 Tom formed a Miles Davis Electric tribute band playing the music from legendary albums like “In a Silent Way”, “Bitches Brew”, “Live Evil” and “Tutu”. The band is rounded out by notable Philadelphia musicians John Swana (electric trumpet), Tim Motzer (electric guitar), Dave Posmontier (electric keyboard) and Chico Huff (electric bass).
Tom has performed at various international and national festivals including Newport Jazz, JVC Jazz, Mellon Jazz, Bethlehem Music, Kulturtage (Berlin, Germany), The Opera Haus (Fuerth, Germany), Gas Teig Concert Hall ( Munich, Germany), Schlott Jazz Club (Berlin, Germany) and New York jazz clubs such as Birdland, Smoke, Smalls, Zinc Bar, Visiones, 55 Bar, The Blue Note, and in Phila. Zanizibar, Ortleibs, and Chris’.
Tom was a faculty member of Temple University’s Esther Boyer School of Music during 1990-91 school year under the direction of Bill Evans alumni, Chuck Israels. In September of 2001 Tom was selected by the Philly Pops organization under the direction of Peter Nero to perform concerts/workshops with his newly formed Latin Jazz Journey ensemble featuring percussionists Pablo Baptista and Doc Gibbs and Brazilian jazz greats Sergio Brandao and Cidhino Teixera.
Tom’s debut CD on Cadence jazz Records ,“The Tom Cohen Trio”, with Ron Thomas and Mike Richmond was released in 1997, and achieved international acclaim and praise. Record sales were particularly brisk in Japan. It is now in its second printing.
His second recording was released in August of 1999 on Double-Time Records. The release, entitled, “Diggin’ In – Digging Out”, features the burgeoning talents of sax great Chris Potter as well as piano and bass virtuosos Peter Madsen and Peter Herbert respectively. The music traverses a variety of hard driving grooves cross-laminated with sensitive interplay all of which explore forays into the unknown. Liner notes/artist profile can viewed on the Review page (Bill Milkowski.