Mark Christopher Brandt
In Spirit (1996)
Mark Christopher Brandt: acoustic piano, keyboards, percussion
Geoff Thaler: woodwinds
Dallas Smith: electric bass
Stan McMullen: drums, percussion
About In Spirit (Released March 25, 1996)
Coming off the death of his infant son, and committed to a drug and alcohol free existence, Mark entered the studio to record what technically would have been his first recording as a leader had he not opted to temporarily halt work on In Spirit in order to produce Veritas with his friend and co-collaborator of several years, Geoff Thaler. Upon completion of their acoustic duo CD, the two musicians put together a powerful electric band which would record Mark’s next two albums of material.
In Spirit is a pivotal album in the career of Mark Christopher Brandt because it further diminished his opportunity for greater fame for the very reason that it galvanized him as a true artist of the modern era and placed him on the path towards lasting notability as a composer. In the mid-1990’s Mark was rapidly becoming the most talked about musician in the Washington D.C. music scene, and arguably the most misunderstood. His unbending artistic integrity caused him to reject opportunities at two reputable jazz labels in the same way he had done years before with opportunities in the pop/rock world, and then later in the country music scene.
In Spirit is a testimony to that integrity with intricate and complex compositional forms, shifting time signatures and multiple contrapuntal motifs flowing through the powerful two part opening Unconditional Love. There is a nod to Mark’s love for spontaneous composition found in the impassioned acoustic piano segue between Unconditional Love Part 1 and Part 2 which was improvised in the studio at that very moment. In Spirit features incredible virtuoso chops from all of the players and it showcases Mark’s comfort as both a multi-keyboardist and a composer, as he moves effortlessly through powerful, fast paced, rock, fusion, funk, Latin and jazz grooves undergirded by the powerful rhythmic abilities of drummer Stan McMullen and bassist Dallas Smith.
E.O.D., Group Therapy, the mind-blowing electric burner which closes this short set - just under 45 minutes - features an aggressive soprano sax solo by Geoff Thaler that stands the test of time in both virtuosity and creativity. All of the ensemble tracks, including improvised solos, were recorded in one take, making this album a “live” studio recording of incredible energy with an appropriate title.
1. Unconditional Love Part 1
2. Unconditional Love Part 2
3. In Spirit
4. Funk Song #1
6. E.O.D. (Group Therapy)