A professional jazz pianist and composer since the late 1970‘s, Mark Christopher Brandt has, not only the confidence, but the musical gifts to deliver the goods. The eclectic jazz musician from Washington, D.C. offers his first solo piano recording since Contemplation (released January 1, 2000). Few musicians have the courage to place an improvised offering out there amidst the plethora of great, and even lesser, well-known pianists. Fewer still are those who enter the studio these days equipped with only a piano and their inner ear. It does seem that artistic oblivion is the destination for creative artists who do not play the traditional classical repertoire, or who do not offer the perfectly programmed grooves which have become synonymous with jazz since the birth of the smooth jazz genre almost 30 years ago. Just as all genres and styles find a home somewhere, This Side of Forever is being received as a solid and moving musical work among jazz, classical, and praise music listeners alike.
Brandt is melodic where many pianists would be rhythmic. He is rhythmic where most would be melodic. He is subtle where many throw out gratuitous displays of technical prowess. In any given moment, there are spontaneous bursts and flurries like those of Charlie Parker or even Frederic Chopin, followed by gentle, yet driving, fluid lines like those of Beethoven and even saxophonist, Michael Brecker. All four mentioned musicians influenced Mark heavily in his youth, as well as the standard long list of great jazz improvisers. Mark’s harmonies are simple when you expect them to be complex, and they are rich and lyrical when you expect simplicity. In a word, this pianist is a unique and freely improvising musician in the tradition of Johann Sebastian Bach, Keith Jarrett, and everyone who has come in between.
The modern age of online accessibility has brought us many good things, not the least of which is the opportunity to hear the music of talented, but all too often obscure artists. Thanks to CD Baby, and courageous, unwavering artists like Mark Christopher Brandt, the world is a better place. Do yourself a favor and download this beautiful CD in its entirety. We are all existing together on "this side of forever."