Joie de Vivre (2015)
Dan Leonard: acoustic and electric guitars
Shani DuFrain, TCRG: vocals, Irish Step Dancing, hand clapping
Mark Christopher Brandt: acoustic piano, hand clapping
Special Guest Violinist: Emily Wellington
About Joie de Vivre (Released March 17, 2015)
One year to the month after No Explanations released Round Trip, Joie de Vivre appeared in it’s own niche, immediately surprising the Irish dance world and both the Portuguese Fado, and French torch song markets. The versatile and eclectic violinist Emily Wellington contributed to making Joie de Vivre (Joy of life), a unique and powerful album with her ability to become the sound and the style of each country invoked by composer Mark Christopher Brandt and his musical universe. A completely different side of guitarist Dan Leonard is found here with Spanish, Irish, jazz and classical guitar styles appearing at a moment’s notice and seamlessly intertwining with the violinist and the pianist.
The title track is a haunting melody with lyric composed by Brandt and sung by his daughter, Shani DuFrain. DuFrain, a professional Irish dancer, also contributed percussion on two tracks with hand claps and Irish dance steps. A small dance floor was set up in the studio and miked for the recording of Mark’s American Suite for Irish Dancers.
The melody of Joie de Vivre, which is reprised at the end of the album as an instrumental duo between Mark and Dan, is deceptively difficult as it flows along in a traditional torch song manner. At the bridge however, the chromatic line is delivered so flawlessly by DuFrain that its difficulty is imperceptible until one attempts to sing the piece a cappella. This, like much of Mark’s music is typical, in that he enjoys providing a challenge to the musician that is not perceived by the listener. “If my music,” offers Brandt, “sounds and feels simple, and accessible, even singable, then I have accomplished the goal to uplift yet not demand that the listener work at being uplifted.”
There are so many surprises with Joie de Vivre that it seemed to catch on in the international market place as a buffet for listeners of every culture. In addition to being all things to all people in one complete package, Joie de Vivre remains perfect for the multi-song download generation as each of the pieces stand individually on their own. If, however, you are an old school music aficionado, then this album, like its predecessor Round Trip, is one for the comfortable chair, the great stereo, and an international vacation from the hectic world around with none of the cost and none of the hassles of traveling.
1. Joie de Vivre
American Suite for Irish Dancers
2. Part 1: The Clifton Slip Jig
3. Part 2: Alannah's Spanish Dance
4. Part 3: Jazz Horn Pipe
5. Hope Springs Eternal
6. The Visit
7. The Child In Me
8. A Celebration of Life
9. Joie de Vivre (Reprise)