Mark Christopher Brandt
The following time-line exclusively outlines Mark's movements as a jazz pianist. All other performance credits and recordings are listed elsewhere. For personal and spiritual reasons Mark has only allowed the names of those members who recorded with him to be listed here.
1977 - 1986
Mark meets the pianist, guitarist and first chair saxophonist, in the jazz band where he attends high school. They take him under their wing and begin teaching him music theory, who to listen to, and what to listen for. Mark is hired to play in the professional combo run by his high school band director. This is crucial education for Mark and these relationships become the catalyst for Mark choosing to go into a career as a musician rather than as an actor. He becomes the musical director for the high school variety group which combines the drama department with the jazz band, (the first group of it’s kind in the country), and by his senior year he is solicited by the military bands to join them as a pianist and an arranger.
Mark worked in bands professionally while attending Catholic University in Washington D.C. as both a classical piano performance and traditional composition major. He gained invaluable experience playing clubs and larger performance venues while attending CU before taking a year off to study jazz composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts from 1983 to 1984.
Upon completing all of the theory requirements and most of the arranging requirements Mark left Berklee and headed south to gain experience both in life and in other forms of music before returning to the Washington D.C. jazz scene in December of 1986. He wasted no time re-establishing with former colleagues and capped his first year back in the D.C. music scene at Blues Alley with Syncron, a band he co-lead with saxophonist Geoff Thaler.
1988 - 1993
Mark played solo jazz piano Monday through Friday from 4-7pm in the main lounge of the Dulles Ramada Renaissance Hotel, and eventually landed the gig upstairs from 7 - 11 in the Jazz Lounge. He played a total of 8 hours of solo piano a day, every day of the week, for four years. In 1993 Mark began to perform regularly with his first jazz trio comprised of Glenn Harris on bass and Stan McMullen on drums.
1993 - 1999
Mark performs with the areas finest jazz musicians and in all of the top clubs and hotels in the NOVA, Maryland, D.C., tri-state area as both a leader and as a sideman of note.
Mark’s first recording as a leader, Warmup, is released; Jazz Standards performed by Mark Brandt, acoustic piano, Glen Harris acoustic bass, Stan McMullen, drums. Prominent jazz labels begin taking note of Mark’s whereabouts. (Warmup is out of Print).
Mark ends this pivotal year performing on New Years eve with renown jazz musicians at the Cosmos Club in Washington D.C., at one of the biggest events held for the turn of the century.
2000 - 2008
Mark decides to leave performing behind so that he can remain close to his wife and children during their formative years. He establishes and names his private instruction studio, and his own indie label Lionheart Music East.
2008 - 2014
Mark put together a trio comprised of former students, drummer, Nate Panning, and bassist, Shaun Jurek. The Trio begins a whirlwind circuit of clubs, high schools and colleges. They released two CD’s; Worth The Wait, (2010) a highly acclaimed jazz trio set of Mark’s originals, and December Moment (2014), a CD featuring Mark’s arrangements of Christmas Classics which received a glowing review from Bobby Reed of Downbeat Magazine and which still remains a top seller and a holiday favorite.
No Explanations is released. This is an acoustic piano/guitar CD, featuring guitarist Dan Leonard which is comprised of pieces spontaneously created in the studio. To this day most people listening to this recording assume that these pieces were composed and rehearsed. Not so. Mark and Dan went into the studio, set up, and played for several hours with the tape rolling. These songs are the unedited results.
Sunflowers and Roses is released. This is an acoustic piano and flute CD, featuring virtuoso flutist Yana Nikol. The recording is comprised of pieces spontaneously created in the studio. If jazz is truly about improvisation then this is truly a jazz album like it’s earlier counterpart, No Explanations with guitarist, Dan Leonard. The tracks on this CD were created as part of Mark’s DVD on Improvisation titled Structure and Freedom. Yana and Mark created the music on the spot with cameras rolling.
2014 to Present Day
Mark is playing jazz at least once a week somewhere between the northern border of Maryland and the southern border of Virginia with acoustic bassist, Shaun Jurek in a duo group called the East Coast Duo. Jazz, Mark’s first musical love, and the integrity required to be good at it, has always been the driving force behind his every career move. He has plans for several more “straight ahead” jazz recordings of originals. Like so many musicians before him, Mark found the reason for his existence and the purpose for his gifts. God, and the Glory of God, respectively.
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