Upon receiving the invitation to play the 2014 Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, there was not a moment of hesitation from my band (The Congress) or myself to accept this wonderful offer. In fact, with the reputable lineup of talent and creativity that the YBG Festival continues to generate, we knew that we had to share the stage with these amazing artists, and that this show would be without question, one of those memorable highlights of our musical careers. We are very much looking forward to and excited about playing our music at this amazing Festival in front of our friends, fans and the entire Bay Area Community! And what better time and place could there be for us to share some of the new music we have been working so hard to compose and perfect for our fans and listeners?
When I first conceptualized “Marcus Cohen & The Congress,” I envisioned a big band sound– something in the spirit of Curtis Mayfield/Love Unlimited Orchestra, aka Barry White’s orchestra. I didn’t want to particularly replicate that sound exactly, but I did crave something nostalgic – with my own spin of course. I was so in love with that full, sultry orchestral sound, which left me both hypnotized and determined to write and compose my own original music within a similar sound scape and influence.
Throughout my musical career, I have often been asked, “Marcus, where does your musical inspiration come from?” Well fortunately, I am inspired by such a vast array of different artists and musical genres that to fully answer that question would take much more than the space they have given me to write this article. But to give you a brief idea of my musical influences, I love to listen to nearly all genres of music, including a lot of soul, jazz, funk, r&b and hip-hop. There exists a high possibility that any classic song or artist within these genres has influenced me as a musician at some point in my career. Artist such as Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Duke Ellington, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Billie Holliday, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Prince, A Tribe Called Quest, D’angelo, Meshell Ndegeocello, Robert Glasper, Roy Hargrove, Emily King, The Roots, Alice Smith, and Moses Sumney to name a few.
I’m also a really huge fan of Miles Davis. His use of space taught me a lot as a trumpeter and composer. I consider him a major pioneer in musical innovation. I’m attracted mostly to his use of harmony and rhythm. His collaborations with Wayne Shorter really stuck with me. Tracks such as “Water Babies” for example, which also showcases Herbie Hancock on piano, exhibit the use of space and harmony I’m referring to.
I also grew up singing and playing both trumpet and drums in a gospel church, which hugely shaped my musicality. I give this experience credit in allowing me to develop and hone my craft as a musician, as well as teaching me to play music with others.
The Congress and I hope to see you all at the festival on June21st!!! We take the stage at 1:00 p.m. sharp. Regardless of whether you have seen us play live before or not, I assure you that we will not leave you disappointed. In fact, I am confident that our music is gonna make ya feel alright!!!