Peyton Pleninger is an emerging tenor saxophonist, improviser, bandleader and conceptualist, forging a personal path that challenges the boundaries of what it means to be a musician. Pleninger’s 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 Graves’ 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 Artist's Space.
Born on April 7, 1996 just outside of Philadelphia, Pleninger began playing piano at age 4. A gifted a hand-me-down tenor saxophone, along with hearing recordings of John Coltrane, set Pleninger on a lifelong journey to improvise at the highest level. In his last 2 years of high school, Pleninger studied with Anthony Tidd through the Kimmel Center Creative Music Program. During this time he also met Steve Coleman, who Pleninger followed relentlessly, attending performances and workshops in Philadelphia, NYC, and Detroit.
Upon 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 EP’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, to be released 2022. The album was recorded remote, in various locations around Long Beach, and explores different imagined dance styles through Pleninger's signature setup of saxophone augmented with bells.
Pleninger also works as a dedicated side-person with multiple music projects. He performed with Henry Threadgill as part of the multimedia work "One" and "The Other One." He plays in John Benitez’ 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 Yosef'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 Hinton’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 Maurer’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 Bachand’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.