By Thomas V. Mirus February 11, 2016
Catholic pianist-composer Mark Christopher Brandt has now released the second in a series of four fully improvised piano recordings. Seven Gifts (available as a CD or a DVD) is based on the same concept as the first installment, Seven Moons, so you can visit my review of the earlier album for a lengthier explanation of the project—but rest assured, the musical content is all new. The eight pieces, seven named after the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and a closing piece titled "Come Creator Spirit," were all created on the spot in the studio, with no editing afterward. (If you will, pause for a moment to imagine how much courage that takes. It's why nobody does it.) The DVD version gives an inside look at the process as it went down in the moment. Full disclosure: Mark is a personal friend. With that propriety out of the way, the music on this album is terribly exciting and absolutely worth your time and money. In addition to that, both the CD and the DVD include a beautiful essay by Mark on art, music and Christian spirituality. My bet is it's the best thing you'll ever read on the subject from a contemporary musician.