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by Mark Christopher Brandt
Released January 1, 2016
Mark Christopher Brandt: acoustic piano
7. Wonder and Awe of the Lord
8. Come Creator Spirit
©2016 All songs Mark Christopher Brandt. All rights reserved. Heart of the Lion Publishing Co./BMI. Recorded and mastered at Slipped Disc Audio, Ashland, Virginia.
Seven Gifts is the second in a series of four completely spontaneous solo piano recordings by the improvising pianist and composer, Mark Christopher Brandt. The first recording was entitled Seven Moons. and like Seven Gifts it was released in both the DVD and Compact Disc format. Those who purchase the Audio CD or the DVD will no doubt find Mark’s essay on the state of jazz and the art form of improvisation both fascinating and educational.
One year after recording Seven Moons Mark went back into the recording studio in Ashland, Virginia with videographer Scott Nurmi of Mojo Factory Productions, and together with Shaun Jurek and recording engineer Bill McElroy of Slipped Disc Audio, they produced this work of art.
As Scott filmed Mark at the piano, Shaun randomly pulled from a mixing bowl pieces of paper with previously written tonal centers on them. These were the tonal centers not pulled during the recording of Seven Moons.
Mark was told the tonal center in which to spontaneously create a piece of music. Using a stop watch as the only structure, he was then given four minutes and thirty seconds to improvise a piece of music. The entire process was repeated eight times.
Track 4, ironically entitled "Courage", is shorter than the rest of the pieces simply because Mark found that the perfect ending was upon him before the cue. Rather than milk the piece a few measures more for the sake of the clock, Mark stopped in the exact place that he heard the ending come forth. The explanation in Mark’s own words says it all: “Sometimes, there is no rhyme or reason. You just have to be docile and surrender to the flow.”
The Seven Gifts DVD/CD, like it’s predecessor, Seven Moons, will present a unique challenge to anyone who wishes to claim that they are truly improvising, as opposed to regurgitating well trained, and practiced lines that are simply, albeit at times, masterfully strung together in a seemingly random or spontaneous fashion.
Further challenges await those who read Mark’s liner notes which not only delve into aspects of the intimidating art form of true musical expression through spontaneous composition called improvisation, but probe, in a very straightforward and unapologetic way, the options for true freedom of soul by the active and equally daunting pursuit of virtue.
Those who love piano music, and those who are seeking music which will breathe new life into the banality of the modern era will be enamored and enthralled with Mark’s “way” of musical and personal expression. There is no pretension here and no question that he offers all credit, praise, and glory for his gifts to God the Creator.
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