Marcus is a consummate musician who possesses a diverse musical vocabulary. He’s toured the U.S. and the world with notable artists that include Joseph Bowie’s Defunkt and Willie Colon. He’s also performed with Jerry and Andy Gonzalez, the Impressions, James “Jabbo” Ware, Vanessa Rubin, Savion Glover, and the Apollo Theater Showtime Band. Marcus has also shared the stage with immortals of the pantheon of greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Cecil McBee, Tito Puente, and Charlie Persip (Super-sound). As an integral part of Harlem’s musical scene, he was a member of the Sugar Hill Quartet for nearly two decades in the band’s residencies at St. Nick’s Pub, Lenox Lounge, Minton’s Playhouse, and Smoke (on the Upper West Side).
After hearing his father doodling Debussy at the family piano, Marcus began to play by ear, improvising on songs from the radio. He began private piano lessons with a local teacher. To get an ensemble credit in high school, he was assigned the bass chair in the high school orchestra, but, as it turned out, the keys were his calling: When he heard McCoy Tyner with John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, and Keith Jarrett, he was inspired to return to his “instrument of origin.”
Marcus attended Grinnell College, the same school that Herbie Hancock attended. From there, he transitioned to the American Conservatory in Chicago, from which he received a B.A. in piano performance. He studied with Willie Pickens, Joe Daley, and Francisco Godino. He also gained an extraordinary musical education playing in the clubs, bars, and dives of Chicago.
Following the multitudes and generations of artists seeking inspiration, Marcus moved to New York City in 1989, which is where he encountered the “Father of Latin Jazz,” Mario Bauza, with whom he toured and recorded. As an arranger, he was inspired and influenced by Bauza. Marcus’s compositions and arrangements were featured on the brilliant trilogy of albums recorded by Bauza’s legendary Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, one of which—“944 Columbus”—was nominated for a Grammy award. Marcus’s arrangements have been performed by many other stellar ensembles as well.
As a leader, Marcus has released four CDs: “Uptown Suite,” “Urban Fictions,” “The Proper Time,” and “In Motion.” The “Proper Time” features all original compositions that capture the many musical manifestations and colors heard in urban neighborhoods. This release features master saxophonist, George Coleman. Marcus also released an EP, “Appointment@ Time Square,” featuring conga master, Juan “Papo” Pepin, along with bassists Donald Nicks and Ruben Rodriguez.
At times, the journey of an independent musician can be challenging, but Marcus continues to forge ahead in his quest to produce music for the soul, while touring and recording with some of the greats in music.