Gary Marks (musician)

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Gary Marks
Gary Marks
Background information
Born (1950-08-29) August 29, 1950 (age 68)
Manhattan, New York, United States
GenresRock, pop, jazz, folk
Occupation(s)Composer, singer, pianist, guitarist, producer, arranger
InstrumentsVoice, piano, keyboards, guitar, percussion
Years active1972–present
LabelsJCOA, Arewea, Marksland, Kindred Spirits, Stella
Associated actsJohn Scofield, Paul McCandless, David Samuels, Art Lande, Michael Cochrane

Gary Marks is a modern rock songwriter, novelist, lead vocalist, rock and jazz pianist, and guitarist. Marks has arranged and produced dozens of records throughout his career. His most recent album, No Turning Back, was released in April 2013.


Marks gained initial popularity in the 1970s in New York and California with albums such as Gathering, Upon Oanda’s Wing, and Thoughts of Why. Decades later, all three recordings were dubbed “folk-rock classics” by the international press when they were re-released in Europe and Asia starting in 2006.[1]

The players on Marks’ first three recordings included guitarist John Scofield,[2] virtuoso horn player Paul McCandless[3] of “Oregon,” pianist Art Lande[4] (ECM Records), trumpet player and film score writer Mark Isham,[5] vibraphonist David Samuels,[6] and pianist Michael Cochrane.[7]

A 2017 review by Rush Hour Distributions in Europe had this to say about Gathering: "In 1973, at the age of 22, singer-songwriter Gary Marks self-produced his first album, Gathering. It is now considered a classic — a totally unique amalgam of folk-rock-jazz that seems to get richer and more powerful through the years." It came out on the prestigious but tiny "JCOA" label, run by Carla Bley. Original copies go for $400–500 on eBay nowadays, since it has never been reissued. Kindred Spirits found a copy in Jazzanova's collection and contacted Gary Marks, who is still very much active as a mucisian/writer, to license to album.[8]

"What makes the album extra special is the fact that the band included guitar legend John Scofield, the renowned jazz pianist Michael Cochrane, and one of the top vibraphonists in the world, David Samuels. At the time, none of them were known to the general public. In fact, Gathering was the recording debut for each of them. "Gary played guitar and sang live with the band on these tracks. No overdubs were used, and all nine tracks were first takes."[8]

Art Lande, Paul McCandless, and Mark Isham joined Scofield and Samuels on the Upon Oanda’s Wing and Thoughts of Why recordings. Jazz Magazine’s W. Patrick Hinely wrote, "A flow chart of 'Upon Oanda's Wing' might closely resemble some of Milton Nasciemento's EMI albums, which still serve as a paragon for anyone trying to be equally convincing across the board, from tight vocals and arrangements, to wide open instrumental playing."[9]

In 1985 Marks’ music took a stylistic turn. His fourth major album release, Past the Nightwatch, gathered together notable rock players in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of the songs, "Only Time Can Tell," was covered by Teresa Trull on her album A Step Away, and received international airplay. When reviewing Marks’ recording of Past the Nightwatch, Larry Kelp of the Oakland Tribune wrote, “Marks shows a knack for combining a catchy and memorable song with mature and often brilliant lyrics about love . . . and finding a place in the world . . . a rare thing in the world of commercial music.”[10]

Even though Marks would go on to release seven more recordings, he dropped out of the public eye and stopped touring after the release of Past the Nightwatch in order to focus on his novel writing.

Marks has written thirteen novels. His first novel, written in 1988, was a book set in the late 1960s, titled The Dance and The Diamond Sky. Sherry Robb[11] of Robb Literary, Los Angeles wrote: "An amazing book, beautifully written, about a critical time in our country's history. Though this coming of age tale is about a time decades removed, 'The Dance and the Diamond Sky' generates wisdom that directly reflects upon the internal and external struggles we face today. There are no clichés here. There is humor, plenty of drama, and a great ending. A story that needed to be written finally was."

Marks also released his second rock album in 1988, The Real World, which brought him further commercial success as a songwriter. Cris Williamson and Teresa Trull recorded three songs from The Real World. Bay Area music reviewer Derk Richardson wrote in BAM (Bay Area Music Magazine) about The Real World: "Superb song craft . . . keen arrangements. If familiar reference points are Steve Winwood and Bruce Hornsby, Marks demonstrates as much care to the architecture of a song as those two certified platinum stars did on their most recent outings. Each song is intelligent, exceptional . . .”

For his latest CD, released in 2013, “No Turning Back,” Marks composed and performed all of his electric guitar tracks in open tunings.

Since the 1990s Marks has continued to work in the literary world while also writing and recording songs.


LPs / CDs[edit]

2013 No Turning Back

2010 From Here

2007 A Whisper Can Change the World

2003 Self Portraits

1999 Bountiful

1994 If All They Said Was True

1988 The Real World

1985 Past the Nightwatch

1977 Thoughts of Why

1975 Upon Oanda’s Wing

1973 Gathering

CD Re-releases[edit]

2016 Gathering / re-release in Japan and Asia

2013 Thoughts of Why / re-release in Japan and Asia

2012 Upon Oanda's Wing / re-release in Japan and Asia

2007 Gathering / re-release in Europe

2005 Anthology II for iTunes

2005 Anthology I for iTunes



2017 Beyond Henry

2016 Autobiography of an AI

2013 WOW

2012 Rain Dreams

2011 iDream

2010 Journey Through the Riotous Dark

2009 (T)here

2009 Somewhere Beautiful

2007 Super Star

2007 Orbiting Chaos

1991 The Fall of Eros

1988 The Dance and the Diamond Sky

1968 Timshel's Choice


1990 / 1991 Gary Marks Piano Method Books I and II


  1. ^ Retrieved May 13, 2014
  2. ^ Retrieved May 12, 2014
  3. ^ Retrieved May 12, 2014
  4. ^ Retrieved May 12, 2014
  5. ^ Retrieved May 12, 2014
  6. ^ Archived 2014-06-05 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved May 12, 2014
  7. ^ Retrieved May 12, 2014
  8. ^ a b (2017) Review from Rush Hour
  9. ^ Kindred Spirits | Artists. Retrieved May 8, 2014
  10. ^ Kelp, Larry.(1985) Oakland Tribune. Retrieved May 7, 2014
  11. ^ Robb, Sherry.(1988) Retrieved May 15, 2014

External links[edit]