Mark Cohen and The Spirits | Moments of Grace

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Moments of Grace

by Mark Cohen and The Spirits

Rock Folk Rock
Genre: Rock: Folk Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Moments of Grace
7:48 $0.99
2. You'll Always Be With Me
5:22 $0.99
3. MacDougal Street
5:13 $0.99
4. Indy 5
6:02 $0.99
5. Patterns
3:28 $0.99
6. Buffalo
5:17 $0.99
7. Kosovo
4:02 $0.99
8. Just One Night
3:09 $0.99
9. Wildwood Flower (instrumental)
13:40 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Mark Cohen

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 famed Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, the band included four singers, one of whom, Albert Jameson, is now chairman of the Gospel Association 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, Dionne Warwick, and Whitney Houston, among others. Formed by Robert Wedlaw, whose brother-in-law, Don Echoles, led the horn section, "The Ingredients of Love," a formative experience for each of its members, played colleges and New York clubs and theaters, including the Apollo and the Brooklyn Apollo, the Lloyd Price Turntable, and the Peppermint Lounge.
After travelling through Europe and living in Greece for several months, Cohen returned to the states and became a denizen of the Greenwich Village music scene, playing many of the city's clubs and headlining "The Best of the Best: The Village's Undiscovered Stars" at Gerde's Folk City. Mark recorded two albums for the world renowned Folkways Records label, with bands that included Chico Rindner and Gary Haneline on bass, Phil Leone, Tony Parker, and Rich Benoit on drums, Steve Miller on guitar, Bob Prewitt on twelve-string electric guitar, and Nancy Lee Baxter doing backup vocals.

The Walrus, a trade publication, called Cohen "a valuable find," saying "his debut album, 'Fare Well, Traveller,' whets the appetite for more." Mark's two albums received play across America and overseas.

Mark played in numerous concerts and radio broadcasts, appearing with Phil Ochs, Willie Nile, Steve Forbert, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, the Roches, Phoebe Snow, and Richard Lewis, among others, and was hailed as a "recent discovery" by Broadside Magazine.

"Moments of Grace," was co-produced with arranger and lead guitar player Jim Satten, and with a band that includes Rusty Cloud on keyboards, Connie Harvey, Leslie Hughes, Bil Kurz and Darryl Perreti doing backup vocals, Kevin Jenkins on bass ("Buffalo" and "Kosovo"), Tommy Price ("Buffalo and "Kosovo") and Cliff Hackford ("Moments of Grace" and "You'll Always Be With Me") on drums, and Dan Cipriano ("You'll Always Be With Me") and Michael Blake ("Moments of Grace") on sax. 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. He's played guitar behind Ron Woods 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 (keyboards, all songs except "Just One Night")
was keyboard player for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and backed up the Blue Brothers for the past seven years. He's played behind Aretha Franklin, Gary U.S. Bonds, Bo Diddley, the Cotton Club Orchestra and numerous other artists.

Cliff Hackford (drums and other percussion, "Moments of Grace," "You'll Always Be With Me") 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 (sax, "You'll Always Be With Me") is 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 is also in the cast of the smash off-broadway musical "Love, Janis."

Michael Blake (sax, "Moments of Grace") is a composer in residence at New York City's Jazz Composers Collective, and a veteran member of Ben Allison's group Medicine Wheel. He contributes to many collective projects. His critically acclaimed debut CD, Kingdom of Champa, produced by the legendary Teo Macero, was released in 1997. He has performed with Ben E. King, Gil Evan's Orchestra, The Groove Collection and Medeski.

Bob Prewitt (12-string Rickenbacker electric guitar, "Moments of Grace") built Magnagraphics Studios, where Mark recorded his first album, on Bedford Street in Greenwich Village. In addition to contributing tracks on various studio sessions, Bob engineered early recordings of KISS and several New York recordings of John Lennon.

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

Leslie Hughes is a singer and actress, with numerous studio, television and Broadway credits.

Bil Kurz (backup vocals, "Indy 5") is a Nashville vocalist.

Darryl Paretti (backup vocals, "Patterns") is
a New York singer.

"Moments of Grace," "You'll Always Be With Me," "MacDougal Street," "Indy 5," and "Patterns" were recorded at Satten Roads Music Studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. "Buffalo," "Kosovo" and "Wildwood Flower" were recorded at M&I Recording Studios, New York City. "Just One Night," produced by Suzan Bader, was recorded at Power Play Studios in Astoria and Active Sound in New York City. Jim Satten and Mark Cohen co-produced all other songs. "Wildwood Flower" was arranged and performed by Mark Cohen.

"Moments of Grace" was mastered at M&I Recording Studios, New York, Ira Yuspeh, engineer.



to write a review

michael conway aka ukulele mike

great music
marc's music is great.
what an inspiration through music.
michael conway aka ukulele mike

Alan Bernstein

Transported me to different places, places I love to go.
There are so many songs on this CD that transported me to different places, places I love to go. And with me, this is no small feat. Moments of Grace is a very special CD.

Rob Goldblum

"In post-9/11 America, Mark Cohen's vision of the Land of the Free is like a sal
In post-9-11 America, Mark Cohen's vision of the Land of the Free is like a salve on an open wound. An homage to America's open spaces and its mythic places, "Moments of Grace" takes a listener from the "gritty sidewalks" of MacDougal Street in New York's Greenwich Village, "along the mighty Hudson" on a train to Buffalo, and out to the heartland on Memorial Day for our ritual rendezvous with speed, where "Engines roar as riders of the howling thunders drive/A blur of cars like shooting stars/It's the Indy 5."

Cohen captures the vast panorama of the American experience. His journey through city and countryside reflects "the yearnings of a soul" (the impetus for the trip to Buffalo), the points on one's inner and outer maps "that hold a special place inside of you."

Cohen's vocal approach is the perfect vehicle for the search. It's as much spoken as sung, and he's as much a storyteller as folk-rocker. And his voice seems to come from a time far off, a pre-cynical America. It's wistful, even sweet, stripped of irony. But Cohen knows that the world is a dangerous place. In "Kosovo," a haunting song that conjures up evil from the Balkans to Rwanda, "there's an enemy behind every tree," and "underneath the surface every day is Halloween." And in the title song, "Moments of Grace," there is this chilling reminder of a new kind of evil: "In the distance buildings built to last/They tremble louder than the loudest tempest's rage/Sounding like a howling trumpet's blast/Being just the turning of a page."

Yet, as the title song conveys, there are moments of grace even "in the savage jungles filled with bruising brawls," and "in the storms churning inside of you."

Cohen, whose first band, "The Ingredients of Love," was a 12-piece soul group, is a veteran of the Greenwich Village music scene. Having played the legendary Gerde's Folk City and numerous other clubs, and recorded two albums on the renowned Folkways label, he has assembled a first-rate group of musicians for "Moments of Grace." Guitarist Jim Satten, the recording's co-producer and lead guitar player, was Bo Diddley's music director and has backed numerous music greats; keyboardist Rusty Cloud was with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and recently backed Aretha Franklin and the Blues Brothers; drummer Cliff Hackford has played behind the Shirelles and Sam the Sham, and Connie Harvey, on backup vocals, is one of The Chiffons. With other notable band members, they have they created a tight, distinct sound, a hard-to-pin-down but unmistakable blend of folk and rock traditions.

On love songs like "You'll Always Be With Me" and "Just One Night," Cohen makes memory, and its warm afterglow, a main character. "Some nights keep their promises, some slip through our fingers," he writes in "Just One Night," "This one still belongs to us, it carries us, it lingers." And in "You'll Always Be With Me," a sweet innocence - "Two lonely birds on ripples of a stream/Two wild horses on a Coney Island ride" - collides with a sense of loss that after September 11 resonates in unexpected ways: "When we woke that morning/I didn't know you'd soon be gone/Now how I miss you but I got to carry on/You'll always be with me."

In "Patterns," Cohen finds "worlds that have evolved," "kaleidoscopic rainbows," and "the chaos of lovers" that are fleeting, but even in these, "The jigsaw notes all fit together/Every one sustained forever."

The one instrumental on the CD, the extended, 13-minute "Wildwood Flower," is classic. Its symphonic, improvisational quality offers the oasis promised in "Moments of Grace," and is another tribute, through Cohen's soaring arrangement of this Carter family traditional country song, to the land "from sea to shining sea."

Cohen is at his best when he journeys into America, and keeps the evil at bay, if just for an instant. He has a knack for capturing the essence of a place, and its defining spirit, where beauty is an unexpected find in an unlikely spot. In "MacDougal Street," that bohemian boulevard in the Village, Cohen is rhapsodic: "The neon turns a-flickering all about the stores/Gypsies fingers beckon you to step inside the doors/Aromas from cafes rise pungent and sweet/Outside the Reggio and Borgia on MacDougal Street." But he sees what lies beneath. "Cause it ain't so much to look at you surely can't deny/But there's more to MacDougal than rightly greets the eye/Out where spirits swirl, where a thousand stories meet/Is on the gritty sidewalks of MacDougal Street."

In "Indy 5," which hurtles forward in staccato lines that build in speed, the great race becomes a metaphor for the kind of reassuring continuity that rolls around every Memorial Day: "Now the track circles like/A ribbon through the years/No one knows what it will bring/The victories, the clashes/The triumphs and the crashes/Yesterday's giants, tomorrow's kings."

"Buffalo" has about it the echo of Steve Goodman's American train epic, "The City of New Orleans." Cohen loves the American landscape – the sweep and the grandeur of it - and it shows in "Buffalo": "From the rocky wooded mountains springs the old Erie/That carried barges from the west to bring them to the sea/Cutting through the most enchanted land that you might find/Cutting through the pathways that ring inside my mind."

But there's a double meaning to "Buffalo" that gives the song its bittersweet quality. The buffalo, of course, are gone, as is the city that was "the border of the sprawling frontier." But Cohen hops the rails, as Whitman hits the highway in "Song of the Open Road," to "inhale great draughts of space ... to know the universe itself as a road - as many roads - as roads for traveling souls."

In the end, the roads Cohen travels in "Moments of Grace" offer a hint of salvation just around the bend. "I have a reason to believe we all will be received in Graceland," Paul Simon wrote, heading down the Mississippi to Memphis. Mark Cohen, in a different time and a different place, puts it this way in "Moments of Grace": "On the road in each direction, perfection awaits, it's true/Moments of grace for you/Moments, moments of grace."

"Moments of Grace" belongs in every collection. It is redemptive, yes, and after September 11, I'll take it.

Robert Goldblum
July 2004
New York City

Michael Lydon

"Moments of Grace" is an album rich in gorgeous sounds and rich in insights.
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 - superb lead guitar by Jim Satten and piano tracks by Rusty Cloud - and rich in insights.

Co-produced with Jim Satten, "Moments of Grace" has a classy production quality, the synths, guitars, piano and drums creating a fresh sounding blend. He's using modern techniques, but every note is alive, nothing is canned or mechanical. 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.

The songs are a mixed bag, love songs mostly - "Just One Night" the best song to my ears, with its smooth pop feel and sing-a-long nice hook - but Cohen also includes a rocking tribute to the Indianpolis 500. "Kosovo" tells a haunting tale of human cruelty; Mark's true-toned voice conveys the heart of war's horror, seen unflinchingly and with an understanding equal to the tragedy. "MacDougal Street" catches the flavor of Dylan's early rock albums, and Cohen's lyric overflows with the vibes of all the street's great music.

"Buffalo" is a road song, and listening I felt the familiar rhythm of travelling north from Manhattan, then turning at Albany, all the time wondering if I was heading into a western New York covered with a blanket of snow. The closer, "Wildwood Flower," is the only instrumental and, I almost said, the only non-original, but Cohen's atmospheric guitar arrangement is so tasteful and lovely that it made the old mountain song new again.

As I listen again and then again I'm glad to sit back and enjoy the sounds of "Moments of Grace." Mark Cohen brings together a world's soulful feelings mixed with a hard-won maturity, and wraps them up in a tight, modern musical production that is pleasing to the ear and soothing to the soul. Older listeners will hear something new, yet familiar. For younger listeners, "Moments of Grace" will open a whole realm of possibilities.

Michael Lydon is a founding editor of Rolling Stone Magazine and author of "Rock Folk" (Citadel Press) and "Ray Charles: Man and Music" (Riverhead Books).

Harvey Marshak

Moments of Grace is one of five or six cd's that I listen to over and over again
I own over 500 CDs. Moments of Grace is one of five or six that I listen to over and over again.
Harvey Marshak
former publisher, Rock Magazine

Phil Blazer

Buffalo is a song destined to become an American classic.
These recordings reveal the talents of a great songwriter and powerful vocalist. Buffalo is a song destined to become an American classic. Kosovo is not about that haunted area as much as it is about the furies that lie beneath the surface of ordinary life everywhere. Moments of Grace leave this listener eagerly awaiting Cohen and The Spirit's next release.

Phil Blazer, Blazer Communications, Los Angeles

Rose Kaplan

These are songs that grab hold and don't let go.
My 13-year-old son enjoys it as much as I do. When I pick him up at school he can't wait to listen to it on the ride home. These are songs that grab hold and don't let go.