Cohen and The Spirits

Mark Cohen's first band was "The Ingredients of Love," a twelve-piece soul group in which he played funky rhythm guitar.  Based in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, the band included four singers, one of whom, Albert Jamison, is now Bishop Albert Jamison, chairman of the Gospel Music Workshop of America.

Two-time Grammy winner Tyrone Williams was one of the Ingredients of Love, as was Michael Jones, now known as Kashif, who went on to produce Kenny G and Dionne Warwick, among others.  Founded by Robert Wedlaw, "The Ingredients of Love," a formative experience for each of its members, played colleges and New York clubs and theaters, including the Apollo, the Lloyd Price Turntable, and the Peppermint Lounge.

After travelling through Europe and living in Greece, Cohen returned to the states and became a denizen of the Greenwich Village music scene, playing many of the city's clubs and as one of the select artists in "The Best of the Best: The Village's Undiscovered Stars" at Gerde's Folk City.  Cohen recorded two albums for the world renowned Folkways Records label, “Fare Well, Traveller,” and “Plutonium.” 

Cohen played in numerous concerts and radio broadcasts, appearing with Phil Ochs, Willie Nile, Steve Forbert, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, the Roches, Phoebe Snow, Janis Ian and Richard Lewis, among others, and was hailed as a "recent discovery" by Broadside Magazine.  He opened for Richie Havens at The Towne Crier Cafe in Pawling, New York, on the 39th anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival.

Cohen’s recent cds, “Here On Earth” and "Moments of Grace", were co-produced by Cohen and arranger and lead guitar player Jim Satten.  In addition to Mark and Jim, band members include Rusty Cloud on keyboards; Kevin Jenkins on bass ("Buffalo" and "Kosovo"); Tommy Price ("Buffalo” and "Kosovo"), Cliff Hackford ("Moments of Grace" and "You'll Always Be With Me") and Denny McDermott (“Here On Earth”) on drums; Dan Cipriano ("You'll Always Be With Me") and Michael Blake ("Moments of Grace") on sax; and Connie Harvey, Leslie Hughes, Leslie Wagner, Bil Kurz and Darryl Perreti doing backup vocals.  Other musicians contributed tracks on the sessions.

Jim Satten (guitars) was Bo Diddley's music director and guitar player.  Jim appeared with Bo Diddley on the Johnny Carson show and HBO's "Giants of Rock and Roll" live broadcast from Rome, Italy.  Jim played guitar behind Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, Eddie Kendricks of the Temptations, Ben E. King, Chuck Berry, Ronnie Spector, Lesley Gore, Del Shannon, Sam and Dave, Lloyd Price, Wilson Pickett, the Coasters, the Platters, Lou Christie, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other greats.

Rusty Cloud was keyboard player for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, in Bo Diddley’s world tour band, and plays keys for the Blue Brothers, most recently at an international jazz festival in Odessa, Ukraine.  He's played behind Aretha Franklin, Gary U.S. Bonds, the Cotton Club Orchestra, and numerous other artists.

Cliff Hackford played behind Vicki Sue Robinson, AK-47, Mack Guitar Murphy of the Blues Brothers, Cadillac Moon, Sam the Sham, The Shirelles and numerous reggae artists including Ken Booth, Pablo Moses, and Augustine Pablo.

Dan Cipriano was a regular sax player behind Wilson Pickett, and has played with the Allman Brothers, Michael Bolton, Southside Johnny, Gary U.S. Bonds, Phoebe Snow, Ben E. King, NRBQ, The Tokens, The Shirelles, The Chiffons, Lou Christy, Leslie Gore, and The Coasters.  Dan was also in the cast of the off-Broadway musical "Love, Janis," about the life of Janis Joplin.

Connie Harvey (backup vocals, "Moments of Grace," "You'll Always Be With Me," and "MacDougal Street") is one of The Chiffons.  Connie has also recorded her own Gospel CD and sung backup vocals with Teddy Pendergrass and other artists.

Bob Prewitt built and owned New York’s Magnagraphics Studios, which became a recording studio for John Lennon and for KISS in its beginnings.

How do you describe your music to people, Mark?
Short answer:  Uniquely mine.  My songs and a sound coming from a Folk-Rock tradition.

And now, the words from a promotional brochure written by Michael Lydon, author of "Rock Folk," "Ray Charles: Man and Music," and a founding writer for Rolling Stone Magazine:

"Moments of Grace" is well-named - a sensitive collection of fine songs in fine settings, all suggestive of the evanescent sweetness of life and love, and all by Mark Cohen, a songwriter whose roots reach back to the vibrant Greenwich Village music scene and to the soul group that was his first band.

Cohen, a curly-headed sprite with a big warm smile, played Folk City in those days, put out two albums on Folkways (now collector's items), and swapped songs with mentors and friends including Phil Ochs, Willie Nile, and other MacDougal Alley irregulars.

Through the years, Cohen, like many of his pals - those who survived! - kept his music alive.  The result is "Moments of Grace," an album in which every track is infused by the strength of Cohen's love of music and all he's learned through the decades.  This is an album rich in gorgeous sounds and rich in insights.

Co-produced by Cohen and guitarist/arranger Jim Satten, "Moments of Grace" has a classy production quality, the synths, guitars, piano and drums creating a fresh sounding blend.  The textures of the tunes are pleasing, melodic and varied, with good arrangements that build from solo guitar and small groups to big ensembles and choruses of background vocalists.  Cohen's distinctive and unusual voice puts his lyrics across with a subtle but passionate clarity.

Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
Have played all my life.  My first band was a 12-piece soul group, The Ingredients of Love, based in Brooklyn's Bed-Sty neighborhood.  We played the Apollo, the Lloyd Price Turntable, the Peppermint Lounge and a host of other regional venues.  After living in Greece for nearly a year returned to New York and three nights later was playing at the Gaslight on MacDougal Street.  Years of club work and studio recordings followed, great days, with two albums of my songs - "Fare Well, Traveller" and "Plutonium" - released by Folkways Records.  Two cds followed -"Moments of Grace" and "Here On Earth" (Street Scenes Music).

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Playing music, and being with my love

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
Getting "out there."

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
A musician

In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
Everything I have ever done, everyone I have ever met, and every place I have ever been have influenced and found their ways into my words and music.

What other artists out there do you love?
Many artists and many genres - Leonard Cohen, The Rolling Stones (my favorite band), Chuck Berry, Chicago Blues, Leadbelly, Wes Montgomery

What does your future hold?
Lord knows