Mark Christopher Brandt
Seven Gifts is the second in a series of four completely spontaneous piano solo recordings by improvising pianist and composer, Mark Christopher Brandt. The first DVD was entitled Seven Moons.
On August 22, 2015, 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 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, Mark was given four minutes and thirty seconds to improvise a piece of music. The entire process was repeated eight times. In most situations, and during both Seven Moons and Seven Gifts, Mark was absorbed in the process, so the visual cues that Shaun provided for Mark in order to know when it was time for him to fashion an ending were necessary to keep the pieces from running on endlessly.
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.”
In addition to a unique musical experience, this DVD includes an in-depth, and informative essay by Mark on the state of improvisation within the continuum of creative music ranging from the earliest classical composers to present day jazz musicians. Mark also shares his personal practice approach towards creating this hour of completely spontaneous music, discussing how he balanced between the need for proper preparation and the essential letting go of the universal, yet detrimental need for control of the outcome.
Those who love piano music will be enamored and enthralled with Mark’s “way” of musical expression. There is no pretension here and no question that he offers all credit, praise, and glory for his gifts to God the Creator.