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Tobin Mueller
Best of the CenterStage Years - Volume 1 and Volume 2
Best of CenterStage Cover
available on HearNow, CDBaby, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and YouTube Streaming

Jump to:  Volume 1  •  Volume 2

See also: Reviews

This page discussing Best of the CenterStage Years is under construction.

Volume One highlights Tobin Muellers’s earlier Children's Theatre compositions; Volume Two switches into the later CenterStage years when many of his shows originally written for his youth theatre troupe were adapted for adult audience in the middle 1990s.

Many of the recordings are performed by adults for children, often including a children's chorus. Several others are perfromed by the CenterStage Youth Touring Troupe. A few are composer demos.

Featured singers: Janet Planet, Timothy Dorsey, Emily Rohm and the composer Tobin Mueller. Janet Planet is a Grammy nominated jazz singer, Tim Dorsey is a jazz/pop singer from the Appleton WI area, and Emily Rohm is a musical theatre professional from Chicago. Other featured singers include R&B singer Jessica Flood, progressive rock singer Anton (Twon) Mueller, musical theatre performer Jim Hart, plus many children from the CenterStage Theatre Troupe who went on to careers in the performing arts including Stacy Funk, Brianna Davis, Justin Leath, Holly Thomas, Kate Brehm, Kathryn Purdy and more.

Featured Singers Janet Planet - Tim Dorsey - Emily Rohm

The album is remastered by Factory Underground Studio's Tom Stewart. Since these are theatrical performances, many of the original tracks included scenes, narration, etc. Whenever ppossible, the talking sections have been edited out. Links are provided to original musicals' project page, in case you are interested in listening to the acting portions and learning more about the story, purchasing scripts and scores, etc.

Links are provided to the the musicals each song is taken from. Feel free to read more about each show, specific performers, and additional songs.

Every track is both streamable and downloadable (see MP3s below). Several BONUS TRACKS will also be provided.

CSP Album Covers
Volume One
We Are the Ones [from To Save the Planet]
Happy Birthday World [from Music of the Planets] - with spliced Finale acc end
Cradle of Life [from Music of the Planets] -edited
Pluto, Last Planet on the Rim / Happy Birthday World [from Music of the Planets]
We Are the Thunder Lizards [from Danger Dinosaurs!] edited
Hey Tuatara [from Danger Dinosaurs!] edited
Is There a Hope / Something New [from Danger Dinosaurs!]
We Are the Good Guys [from Say Yes to Life] splice in acc intro over talking
See Yourself Free [from Say Yes to Life] (long tail)
On Your Feet [from Say Yes to Life] include?? edited
Divide and Conquer [from The Sound of Money] needs acc intro, edit?
For You, For me [from The Sound of Money] edit down (cut internal verse/bridge with Deb)
Save the Planet [from To Save the Planet] - perhaps splice on acc intro
Hole in the Sky [from To Save the Planet]
City Heat [from To Save the Planet] - edited
Where Have You Gone [from To Save the Planet] with spliced in acc intro
Who Done It? [from Mickey Spleen] edit out verse 2?
Give Take [from Mickey Spleen] edit out last repeat?
Circulate [from Mickey Spleen] edit?
Raggedy & Me [previously unreleased]

MP3s and Liner Notes:

1.
We Are the Ones
from To Save the Planet

Departing from Billie Holiday's original empathic performance, I use higher energy funk-fusion to capture the chaotic energy of youth sorting out the confused potential of a world without proper moorings. This synthesis of funk, bop, modal, and jazz, all giving way to a post-bop new age piano solo, is a fitting opening track for this genre-blending collection. Half way through, the tune deviates into What A Wonderful World - an oasis of nurturing gentleness and love. The returning funk groove has less certainty than the initial groove, yet perhaps more adventurousness.

2.
Happy Birthday World
from Music of the Planets

By the time Bessie Smith had the opportunity to put her inimitable stamp on “St. Louis Blues” in 1925, this W. C. Handy classic was already the most popular and well-known blues song in existence. It's one of the first songs I accompanied my mother on, as a teenager. However, this is not at all the way I played it for my mom 45 years ago. This arrangement is an homage not only to W. C. Handy, but to Herbie Hancock, Dr. John and Paul Butterfield as well. The straight ahead funk shuffle played by drummer Lamar Moore gives this legendary tune a fresh feel. Blues, funk and jazz are kept in careful yet impromptu balance. Woody's jazz saxophone interjections, my organ and piano work, and the hip bass playing form the core. However, Grammy-winning Paul Nelson's electric guitar is the true centerpiece. The conversational nature of trading solos is grounded in the jazz tradition, but Paul's lead guitar transforms this multi-genre arrangement into a vintage blues piece.


3.
Earth: The Cradle of Life
from Music of the Planets

This has always been one of my favorite Beatles songs - not just because of its concise poetic lyrics, but also its subtle use of major-minor shifts that shape its haunting melody. Dark harmonic chord substitutions create tension above the triplet rhythmic bed, my way of expressing the tragic expectation of joy behind McCartney’s lyrics. The emotional eruption during the climax frames the restraint of everything that comes before and after, as often happens in life. Rolling Stone has a great article about the evolution of this iconic song, (check it out.)

4.
Pluto, Last Planet on the Rim
from Music of the Planets

Combining two of my favorites - Birdland by Weather Report (fusion jazz) and Long Distance Runaround by Yes (progressive rock) – into a single medley has been a long-time desire of mine. Fusion and progressive rock came about at the same time and I’ve always conflated the two. Long Distance Runaround is not just an introduction, but is incorporated into the middle frenetic piano solo and other transitional sections as well. (Note that the opening instrumental duet is made up of dueling Wurlitzer electric pianos, not guitars.) Birdland splices themes one after another in a shish kabob style, so integrating a new theme came naturally. The frenetic ending developed as an unexpected collaborative consequence between the drummer and pianist... at the end of a very long recording session!

5.
Save the Planet
from To Save the Planet

This begins traditionally, presenting the legendary opening blues riff from Moanin'. But the arrangement transforms quickly into modern fusion as Paul Nelson rips his powerful guitar solo. Once Blue Monk takes over half way through, the interplay between jazz and blues is solidified. Mike Nappi's drumming adeptly fuses the jazz and rock world. Paul uses three different guitar settings to provide wonderfully evocative blues variations. My piano channels a bit of Thelonious Monk, empasizing harmony over lead phrasing, creating a nice contrast to the intricate guitar work. Trilogy bass weaves its a dreamy pulse just beneath the surface.

6.
Hole in the Sky
from To Save the Planet

The first recording of this jazz-blues classic was by Avery Parrish with the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra, June 10, 1940. It was an instant hit. Noteworthy subsequent versions were recorded by the likes of Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Woody Herman and numerous others. Since 1984 it has been the theme song for the Jazz After Hours program on NPR. Woody Mankowski and I perform it as a straight ahead trio, with the organ playing the part of the larger orchestra (as heard in the Big Band versions). At 2:55, the song transforms into a twisted blues take on Monk's Point, forming the tune's climax. This is the closest I've ever gotten to classic blues. It's one of my favorite tracks on the album.

7.
City Heat (Garbage Gala)
from To Save the Planet

This Big Band style arrangement features Mike Nappi on drums, anchoring the ensemble. In reality, however, it is a two-man "duet", with me playing all the other instruments: acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric pianos, B3 organ, and Trilogy bass. Although it sounds like a jazz guitar solo in the middle, that is a Wurlitzer piano (@2:04). Cool is a wonderful example of the tension between letting it all hang out and holding back. West Side Story, by the way, is the reason why I wanted to write musicals. Every song in that show is brilliant.

8.
Where Have You Gone
from To Save the Planet

Dave Brubeck was my most impactful musical mentor. He wedded classical music precision with jazz improvisation, as I've tried to do throughout much of my career. A drum/piano duet, this arrangement is an homage to the groundbreaking album Time Out that revolutionized music. In my own personal evolution, Take Five was a stepping stone to countless time signature experiments. Consider the drummer the main soloist in the first half of the arrangement. Listening in headphones will enable you to hear more of the subtle personality Mike Nappi's performance conveys.

9.
We Are the Thunder Lizards
from Danger Dinosaurs!

Thelonious Monk remains one of the greatest influences on both my playing and writing. I try to add something new to this Monk classic by making it a concept piece: It begins in a bar, reflecting the title. An out of tune saloon upright slowly morphs into my grand piano, as the entire piece rises from the smoke-filled room. (A version with me talking will be included on the not-yet-released The Best of Tobin Mueller.) Woody Mankowski's tenor sax adds to the atmospherics, kicking it up a notch with a great solo midway through. Mike Nappi's drumming grounds the piece, then propels it into its climax.

10.
Hey Tuatara
from Danger Dinosaurs!

Mercer Ellington (Duke's son) found a draft of Take the "A" Train in a trash can after Strayhorn had discarded it. It soon became the most famous composition to emerge from the historic collaboration between Billy Strayhorn and the Duke Ellington orchestra. The title refers to the then-new "A" subway service that runs through New York City, going at that time from eastern Brooklyn up into Harlem and northern Manhattan. The song was composed in 1939, after Ellington offered Strayhorn a job in his organization and gave him money to travel from Pittsburgh to New York City. Ellington wrote directions for Strayhorn to get to his house by subway, directions that began: "Take the A Train". Our version is a post-bop stream of consciousness journey through a more modern urban landscape.

11.
Is There A Hope / Something New
from Danger Dinosaurs!

Mercer Ellington (Duke's son) found a draft of Take the "A" Train in a trash can after Strayhorn had discarded it. It soon became the most famous composition to emerge from the historic collaboration between Billy Strayhorn and the Duke Ellington orchestra. The title refers to the then-new "A" subway service that runs through New York City, going at that time from eastern Brooklyn up into Harlem and northern Manhattan. The song was composed in 1939, after Ellington offered Strayhorn a job in his organization and gave him money to travel from Pittsburgh to New York City. Ellington wrote directions for Strayhorn to get to his house by subway, directions that began: "Take the A Train". Our version is a post-bop stream of consciousness journey through a more modern urban landscape.

12.
Who Done It?
from Mickey SPleen Saves the Day

Mercer Ellington (Duke's son) found a draft of Take the "A" Train in a trash can after Strayhorn had discarded it. It soon became the most famous composition to emerge from the historic collaboration between Billy Strayhorn and the Duke Ellington orchestra. The title refers to the then-new "A" subway service that runs through New York City, going at that time from eastern Brooklyn up into Harlem and northern Manhattan. The song was composed in 1939, after Ellington offered Strayhorn a job in his organization and gave him money to travel from Pittsburgh to New York City. Ellington wrote directions for Strayhorn to get to his house by subway, directions that began: "Take the A Train". Our version is a post-bop stream of consciousness journey through a more modern urban landscape.

13.
Give Take
from Mickey SPleen Saves the Day

Mercer Ellington (Duke's son) found a draft of Take the "A" Train in a trash can after Strayhorn had discarded it. It soon became the most famous composition to emerge from the historic collaboration between Billy Strayhorn and the Duke Ellington orchestra. The title refers to the then-new "A" subway service that runs through New York City, going at that time from eastern Brooklyn up into Harlem and northern Manhattan. The song was composed in 1939, after Ellington offered Strayhorn a job in his organization and gave him money to travel from Pittsburgh to New York City. Ellington wrote directions for Strayhorn to get to his house by subway, directions that began: "Take the A Train". Our version is a post-bop stream of consciousness journey through a more modern urban landscape.

14.
Got to Circulate
from Mickey SPleen Saves the Day

Mercer Ellington (Duke's son) found a draft of Take the "A" Train in a trash can after Strayhorn had discarded it. It soon became the most famous composition to emerge from the historic collaboration between Billy Strayhorn and the Duke Ellington orchestra. The title refers to the then-new "A" subway service that runs through New York City, going at that time from eastern Brooklyn up into Harlem and northern Manhattan. The song was composed in 1939, after Ellington offered Strayhorn a job in his organization and gave him money to travel from Pittsburgh to New York City. Ellington wrote directions for Strayhorn to get to his house by subway, directions that began: "Take the A Train". Our version is a post-bop stream of consciousness journey through a more modern urban landscape.

15.
Divide and Conquer
from The Sound of Money

Mercer Ellington (Duke's son) found a draft of Take the "A" Train in a trash can after Strayhorn had discarded it. It soon became the most famous composition to emerge from the historic collaboration between Billy Strayhorn and the Duke Ellington orchestra. The title refers to the then-new "A" subway service that runs through New York City, going at that time from eastern Brooklyn up into Harlem and northern Manhattan. The song was composed in 1939, after Ellington offered Strayhorn a job in his organization and gave him money to travel from Pittsburgh to New York City. Ellington wrote directions for Strayhorn to get to his house by subway, directions that began: "Take the A Train". Our version is a post-bop stream of consciousness journey through a more modern urban landscape.

16.
For You, For Me
from The Sound of Money

Mercer Ellington (Duke's son) found a draft of Take the "A" Train in a trash can after Strayhorn had discarded it. It soon became the most famous composition to emerge from the historic collaboration between Billy Strayhorn and the Duke Ellington orchestra. The title refers to the then-new "A" subway service that runs through New York City, going at that time from eastern Brooklyn up into Harlem and northern Manhattan. The song was composed in 1939, after Ellington offered Strayhorn a job in his organization and gave him money to travel from Pittsburgh to New York City. Ellington wrote directions for Strayhorn to get to his house by subway, directions that began: "Take the A Train". Our version is a post-bop stream of consciousness journey through a more modern urban landscape.

17.
We Are the Good Guys
from Say Yes to Life

Mercer Ellington (Duke's son) found a draft of Take the "A" Train in a trash can after Strayhorn had discarded it. It soon became the most famous composition to emerge from the historic collaboration between Billy Strayhorn and the Duke Ellington orchestra. The title refers to the then-new "A" subway service that runs through New York City, going at that time from eastern Brooklyn up into Harlem and northern Manhattan. The song was composed in 1939, after Ellington offered Strayhorn a job in his organization and gave him money to travel from Pittsburgh to New York City. Ellington wrote directions for Strayhorn to get to his house by subway, directions that began: "Take the A Train". Our version is a post-bop stream of consciousness journey through a more modern urban landscape.

18.
See Yourself Free
from Say Yes to Life

Mercer Ellington (Duke's son) found a draft of Take the "A" Train in a trash can after Strayhorn had discarded it. It soon became the most famous composition to emerge from the historic collaboration between Billy Strayhorn and the Duke Ellington orchestra. The title refers to the then-new "A" subway service that runs through New York City, going at that time from eastern Brooklyn up into Harlem and northern Manhattan. The song was composed in 1939, after Ellington offered Strayhorn a job in his organization and gave him money to travel from Pittsburgh to New York City. Ellington wrote directions for Strayhorn to get to his house by subway, directions that began: "Take the A Train". Our version is a post-bop stream of consciousness journey through a more modern urban landscape.

19.
Raggedy and Me
previously unpublished

Mercer Ellington (Duke's son) found a draft of Take the "A" Train in a trash can after Strayhorn had discarded it. It soon became the most famous composition to emerge from the historic collaboration between Billy Strayhorn and the Duke Ellington orchestra. The title refers to the then-new "A" subway service that runs through New York City, going at that time from eastern Brooklyn up into Harlem and northern Manhattan. The song was composed in 1939, after Ellington offered Strayhorn a job in his organization and gave him money to travel from Pittsburgh to New York City. Ellington wrote directions for Strayhorn to get to his house by subway, directions that began: "Take the A Train". Our version is a post-bop stream of consciousness journey through a more modern urban landscape.

Volume Two
Come Out of the Forest [from Robin Hood]
In The Great Dream [from Robin Hood]
Let Freedom In [from Robin Hood] [which version? Combo?]
Sweet Liberty [from Robin Hood]
Here, For a Moment [from Robin Hood, Broadway version]
I Want to Know [from I Want to Know]
History of Science [from I Want to Know]
The Train [from "History of Transportation" medley I Want to Know]
Brave New World ["Replaced by Robotics" outtake from History of Transportation medley - I Want to Know]
Do I Know Him? [from Creature, Broadway version]
Brave New Life / Superstar [from Dreams [from Creature, Broadway version] featuring Emily Rohm
Frankenspell Superstar] edit out repeats, choose verses
New School of Life / Run, Run Away [from Frankenspell Superstar] edit lots
I’m Gonna School Ya [from Frankenspell Superstar] edit down
I Am [from Creature, Broadway version]
When You Came [from Frankenspell Superstar]
Must Go Back [from Frankenspell Superstar] edit
I Won’t Leave You [from Creature, Broadway version] [see if instrumental works with under?]

BONUS TRACKS: Woody Singing Promise, Dreams, OVER THE WORLD/I Won’t Leave You (all from Creature, the Broadway version)
MP3s and Liner Notes:

20.
Come Out of the Forest
from Robin Hood

Originally a 1945 French song, "Les Feuilles mortes" (literally "The Dead Leaves"), Autumn Leaves was composed by Hungarian-French composer Joseph Kosma with lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert. The Hungarian title is "Hulló levelek" (Falling Leaves). Yves Montand (with Irène Joachim) introduced "Les feuilles mortes" in the film "Les Portes de la nuit" (1946). Autumn Leaves was the first big band tune I ever played (back in my High School jazz band days, as lead saxophonist). I consider Charlie "Bird" Parker the greatest alto sax player; I couldn't resist the chance to combine the two: the swirling flight of leaves and birds.

21.
In the Great Dream
from Robin Hood

Stardust was my mother's favorite song, the only song I ever heard her play on the piano. The Latin-Calypso feel of this arrangement would surprise her yet, hopefully, also delight her. I can see her dancing to it in the kitchen with breezy joy. Woody Mankowski provides the soprano saxophone colorations. Simplicity is at the core of this arrangement, an oasis of restraint in an album of compressed ideas and restless diversity. Note: the bass line is barely audible when played through a computer's speakers. Headphones may be needed.

22.
Walls
from Robin Hood, Broadway version

As in most of these arrangements, I first recorded this piece on piano and then layered on electronic and acoustic augmentations. Two electronic pianos (Wurlitzer and Fender Rhodes) double with the acoustic piano to create a resonant keyboard sound. EXS modules provide the other embellishments. A few carefully placed bowed piano strings round out the additions. My variations of Summertime capture the breezy lightness of summer viewed through the lens of childhood memory. (There's nothing like summertime to bring you out of a blue reverie.) My first take ended in a style reminiscent of Coney Island and circus music, but my wife, who dislikes circuses and Coney Island, suggested I redo it. (See the above bonus track.) The new ending is more ethereal, more of a summer day spent in the backyard, surrounded by the security and leisure of a happy youth; or, in my wife's case, in the beauty of her self-tended gardens. The new ending became one of producer Kenny's favorite moments on the album. (Thank you, Suzanne.)

23.
Sweet Liberty
from Robin Hood

After recording this medley as a solo piano, I had an idea to record individual notes and reverse them to create the feel of shooting stars in the background. One thing led to another and pretty soon I was programming a Native Instrument FM8 module to add additional augmentations. I like the way the acoustic piano moves in and out of the electronic enhancements. The bells occasionally dip below the surface of the moonlit river. Wind chimes and other whirling sounds remind the listener of the wind that will soon take Dorothy over the rainbow.

24.
Here, For a Moment
from Robin Hood, Broadway version

I bring some new elements to this classic tune, something outside the blues setting that has been done so successfully by Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Eric Clapton and others. Georgia On My Mind is about home, an elusive and changing concept. I intermix Impressionism, jazz, blues and tin pan alley to create a full life journey. The juxtaposition of styles speaks to the idea of how memory folds together disparate emotions with redeeming grace.


25.
Let Freedom In
from Robin Hood

Composed as an instrumental in 1932 by Duke Ellington, the song was inspired by three of Ellington's grade school teachers. "They taught all winter and toured Europe in the summer," the Duke wrote. "To me that spelled sophistication." My piano captures the mood of an open-minded traveler descending stairs onto a tarmac of new experience and mysterious culture. Woody Mankowski's saxophone introduces Ellington's transcendent melody (the epitome of 20th century "popular sophistication" - a phrase that could well be an oxymoron in less capable hands) with melancholy. The arrangement slowly morphs into bewitched then frolicsome reverie.

26.
I Want to Know
from I Want to Know

There are intentional parallels between this arrangement and that of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I wanted to interpret a journey beyond the rainbow, into the stars, something lighter than air, romantic, moonlit. One of the wonderfully balanced melodies in the American Songbook, I support it with chords that surprise yet comfort, uplift yet are not frivolous, creating a contemplative motion that both cherishes memories and looks forward with anticipation. I tilt my hat to Bill Evans as a major influence in the opening (his shadow falls across many of my harmonic choices) and to Keith Jarret during the subsequent variations. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

27.
The History of Science (medley)
from I Want to Know

This is a simple keyboard duet between an acoustic grand and a Fender Rhodes, with added percussion for rhythmic color and variation. The electric piano plays the theme from The Way You Look Tonight and the acoustic piano plays The Nearness of You, showing how related the two melodies are. I love how they fit together. (Certain liberties of timing were required to make them perfectly compatible.) Mike Nappi's drums underscore these well known centerstages with class and elegance.

28.
In the Factory / Brave New World
from I Want to Know

In 1953, this exquisitely balanced tune (from the musical film Calamity Jane) introduced Doris Day to the world. If that were the only version of the song, I would never have picked it for this collection, however. Many others have covered it, from Frank Sinatra and Freddy Fender, but it was pianist Brad Mehldau's live version that made me realize how supremely pretty this songs is. The slow tempo and subtle shifts into modal jazz adds an air of hushed melancholy. A secret love can be a thrilling thing, but more often ends in tragic longing and emptiness. I've tried to make this version more about sweet remembrance.


29.
Do I Know Him
from Creature, Broadway version

My Funny Valentine is a show tune from the 1937 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical Babes in Arms. A popular jazz centerstage, the song appears on over 1300 albums performed by over 600 artists. My favorite is the Miles Davis Quintet version; although Massimo Faraó's piano interpretation is a close second. (It's impossible not to associate Chet Baker with this tune as well.) I have kept the romantic tempo and accentuated the moodiness with synths and a hint of whole tone harmonies. My electric piano solo (in the second half of the arrangement) reminds me of my college days when a Wurlitzer piano was my go-to instrument. Playing it again lent an additional layer of nostalgia.

30.
Brave New Life / Superstar
from Frankenspell Superstar

I've long wanted to combine these three rhythmically-themed classics into a single manic romp. Fascinating Rhythm was introduced in the 1924 Broadway musical "Lady Be Good" by Fred and Adele Astaire. I Got Rhythm was published in 1930. Its chord progression, known as the "rhythm changes", is the foundation for many other popular jazz tunes such as the Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie bebop centerstage "Anthropology (Thrivin' on a Riff)". It is from this latter style that I take my cue. The introduction is Ellington's It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) (1931) which I've always associated with Gershwin's previous classics. Its title was the "credo" of Ellington's trumpeter, Bubber Miley, who was dying of tuberculosis at the time; Miley died the year that the song was released. This arrangement combines swing jazz with progressive rock, updating the rhythmic innovations of Gershwin and Ellington with my own personal touch, including 5/4 time during the I Got Rhythm section.

31.
Run Run Away
Where Is Love? - by Lionel Bart, from the musical Oliver!

This dreamy, haunting rendition highlights the introspective aspects of one of the sweetest soliloquy songs ever written. I use a mixture of reversed and bowed piano, framed by synth and piano continuum in the extended introduction, in order to present the tune's hopeful yet chimerical context. The main body of the piece is modal and shifting, searching and reflective. The hint of synth in the air, at the very end, is a simple exhale, a silent reminder of the questioner who's answers often remains just beyond reach...

32.
I'm Gonna School Ya
from Frankenspell Superstar

Combining these two songs presented a certain unity of pathos for me. One is about the aftermath of a break up; the other is about the longing inherent in people simply needing people, resulting in the never-ending cycle that fuels so many songs (and relationships). After playing with classic jazz chord substitutions, the arrangement gravitates toward Chopin, forgoing suggested genre rules for a deeper romanticism. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by composer Jerome Kern (and lyricist Otto Harbach) is from his 1933 musical Roberta. People is a song composed by Jule Styne with lyrics by Bob Merrill for the 1964 Broadway musical Funny Girl starring Barbra Streisand, who introduced the song. We too easily forget how many of our cherished songs came from Musical Theatre's dramatic storytelling and character revelations.

33.
I Am
from Creature, Broadway version

This dreamy, haunting rendition highlights the introspective aspects of one of the sweetest soliloquy songs ever written. I use a mixture of reversed and bowed piano, framed by synth and piano continuum in the extended introduction, in order to present the tune's hopeful yet chimerical context. The main body of the piece is modal and shifting, searching and reflective. The hint of synth in the air, at the very end, is a simple exhale, a silent reminder of the questioner who's answers often remains just beyond reach...

34.
When You Came
from Frankenspell Superstar

This song was written in the small French fishing village of Le Lavandou and had its first performance in the summer of 1939 in a local bar. The composer Sherwin played piano as Eric Maschwitz (lyricist) sang the words while holding a glass of wine. According to legend, nobody seemed impressed. I love this image. If any song could be made better by holding a glass of wine, it is this one. The melody is wonderfully conversational, like Burt Bacharach's "Alphie". Playing this tune is like being caught in a meditatively mindful stream of consciousness. The first version I recall hearing was by Manhattan Transfer (which won Gene Puerling a Grammy in 1981) even though the song had already been recorded by many of my favorite singers (Mel Tormé, Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra) and big bands (Glenn Miller, Sammy Kaye). It is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. The many runs I use symbolize the nightingales swooping above the street lamps in the night sky.

35.
Must Go Back
from Frankenspell Superstar

This song was written in the small French fishing village of Le Lavandou and had its first performance in the summer of 1939 in a local bar. The composer Sherwin played piano as Eric Maschwitz (lyricist) sang the words while holding a glass of wine. According to legend, nobody seemed impressed. I love this image. If any song could be made better by holding a glass of wine, it is this one. The melody is wonderfully conversational, like Burt Bacharach's "Alphie". Playing this tune is like being caught in a meditatively mindful stream of consciousness. The first version I recall hearing was by Manhattan Transfer (which won Gene Puerling a Grammy in 1981) even though the song had already been recorded by many of my favorite singers (Mel Tormé, Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra) and big bands (Glenn Miller, Sammy Kaye). It is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. The many runs I use symbolize the nightingales swooping above the street lamps in the night sky.

36.
Dreams
from Creature, Broadway version

This song was written in the small French fishing village of Le Lavandou and had its first performance in the summer of 1939 in a local bar. The composer Sherwin played piano as Eric Maschwitz (lyricist) sang the words while holding a glass of wine. According to legend, nobody seemed impressed. I love this image. If any song could be made better by holding a glass of wine, it is this one. The melody is wonderfully conversational, like Burt Bacharach's "Alphie". Playing this tune is like being caught in a meditatively mindful stream of consciousness. The first version I recall hearing was by Manhattan Transfer (which won Gene Puerling a Grammy in 1981) even though the song had already been recorded by many of my favorite singers (Mel Tormé, Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra) and big bands (Glenn Miller, Sammy Kaye). It is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. The many runs I use symbolize the nightingales swooping above the street lamps in the night sky.

37.
I Won't Leave You
from Creature, Broadway version

This song was written in the small French fishing village of Le Lavandou and had its first performance in the summer of 1939 in a local bar. The composer Sherwin played piano as Eric Maschwitz (lyricist) sang the words while holding a glass of wine. According to legend, nobody seemed impressed. I love this image. If any song could be made better by holding a glass of wine, it is this one. The melody is wonderfully conversational, like Burt Bacharach's "Alphie". Playing this tune is like being caught in a meditatively mindful stream of consciousness. The first version I recall hearing was by Manhattan Transfer (which won Gene Puerling a Grammy in 1981) even though the song had already been recorded by many of my favorite singers (Mel Tormé, Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra) and big bands (Glenn Miller, Sammy Kaye). It is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. The many runs I use symbolize the nightingales swooping above the street lamps in the night sky.

1992 Poster - Tobin Mueller
Tobin's Jazz Collection
JAZZ ENSEMBLE
Standard Deviations cover
Standard Deviations - Jazz/Blues - Keyboardist Tobin Mueller is joined by Grammy-winner Paul Nelson (guitars), Woody Mankowski (saxophones), Lamar Moore & Mike Nappi (percussionists) to breathe new life into 33 standards in this fresh Two Volume CD. An homage to Monk, Ellington, Gershwin, Brubeck, Bernstein, Berlin, Kern, Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael, Lennon-McCartney, Richard Rodgers, Harold Arlen, Billy Strayhorn, Charlie Parker, Henri Mancini and more. "The greatest collection of reimagined standards in the last decade."
Come In Funky cover
Come In Funky Old School Funk and and small combo Jazz featuring legendary bassist Ron Carter. "You guys can play! These are, almost without exception, very complicated numbers in terms of rhythm and the general sync of solos with ensemble playing, a stellar set of recordings that, I believe, adds seriously to the body of jazz that this represents. A remarkable work in every single way I can think of. This is such a bright and happy album that is played with a spirit of invention and joy from the first notes to the last." - Paul Page
The Muller's Wheel cover
The Muller's Wheel is a collaborative project combining the talents of pianist Tobin Mueller and saxophonist Woody Mankowski, featuring their jazz quartet and their larger 8-pieace ensemble, playing swing to bop to fusion to funk. The styles of Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Herbie Hancock, The Brecker Brothers, Weather Report and more influence this homage to the jazz greats. This is joyous music. "It reminds us of the happiness we relive when returning to our musical roots," say Mueller and Mankowski.
Rain Bather cover
Rain Bather is an 80 minute long play CD featuring superlative solo performances by all-star band members. Most of the tunes are in the jazz-funk-fusion vein, but many others try to break new ground, defying easy labels. Tobin Mueller - B3 organ, synth; Woody Mankowski - soprano sax; Chris Mueller - acoustic piano; Jeff Cox - acoustic bass; Dane Richeson - drums; Tom Washatka - tenor sax; Doug Schnieder - tenor sax; Ken Schaphorst - flugelhorn; Bob Levy - trumpet; Sal Giorgianni - flute; Bill Barner - clarinet.
SOLO PIANO JAZZ
Afterwords cover
Afterwords - Combining spoken word and solo piano, Tobin "illustrates" his favorite works of literature with a wide variety of new musical compositions. He pays homage to classic authors like Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Faulkner, as well as new authors Dave Eggers, Chuck Palahniuk, Aimee Bender and China Miéville. Musical influences include Oscar Peterson, Hiromi, Brad Maldheu, Fred Hersch, John Taylor, even Keith Emerson. "An astonishing work of art."
Of Two Minds cover
Of Two Minds: The Music of Frédéric Chopin and Tobin Mueller, especially Disc 2 - Tobin plays Tobin. Three original jazz piano sonatas make up Disc 2. Each shows Chopin influences, but draws more from contemporaries Chick Corea, Dave Brubeck and Keith Jarrett. "One would be hard-pressed to find an artist with a more creative musical mind than Tobin Mueller’s - especially one with the playing chops to fulfill his or her vision." Fanfare Magazine's 2016 Editor's Choice Award.
Flow cover
Flow: The Music of J.S. Bach and Tobin Mueller, especially Disc 2 - Tobin plays Tobin. Two post-bop jazz piano suites make up Disc 2. Each shows Bach influences, but draws more from contemporaries Brad Mehldau, Fred Hersch and Gerald Clayton. "This may be the pianist-composer’s most ambitious and sophisticated recording project to date... a journey that inevitably explores the interactions of Baroque and jazz." Fanfare Magazine's 2015 Editor's Choice Award.
Impressions of Water and Light cover
Impressions of Water and Light is an exploration of the cross-inspirations between Impressionist and contemporary jazz piano, including adaptations of music by Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Satie, Ibert and Carpenter. "The listener has the sense that Mueller is having his personal conversation as a composer and pianist with these great 19th- and 20th-century composers." This is third album of "The Masterworks Trilogy" which includes Flow and Of Two Minds.
Impressions of Water and Light cover
Midwinter Born is a collection of jazz piano interpretations of traditional Christmas carols. Mueller captures the quiet simplicity, expectant playfulness and over-riding joy of the season. The 18 track album includes: First Noel, Bring A Torch Jeanette Isabella, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Holy Night, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Carol of the Bells, Lo How A Rose E'er Bloom, Good King Wenceslas, Still, Still, Still and many more.
Morning Whispers cover
Morning Whispers is Tobin's first solo piano collection, a song cycle of tragic beauty. Music of healing and introspection, these New Age and Neo-Classical pieces do more than evoke emotion: they tell stories. Influences include Aaron Copland, Bill Evans, David Lanz, Liz Story. Several of these piano pieces have since been used in film and documentaries.
13 Masks cover
13 Masks is Tobin's second solo piano collection. An exploration of the links between avant-garde 20th Century music and jazz, influences include Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, Art Tatum, John Medeski, as well as classical composers Shostakovich, Ligeti, Bartok. "A truly unique album with music to really sink your teeth into."
Afterwords: Bonus Tracks cover
Afterwords: Solo Piano Bonus Tracks - For those of you who prefer music without any interruptions, seven of the best tracks from Afterwords have been remastered with the talking edited out. Originally conceived for distribution to jazz radio stations, this Bonus Album is now avaiilable to the egeneral public. Influences include Oscar Peterson, Hiromi, Brad Maldheu, Fred Hersch, John Taylor; post-bop, stride, new age, classic jazz.
Tobin's Other CD Collections
Tobin's Solo Piano Collection
Flow cover
Flow: The Music of J.S. Bach and Tobin Mueller is a double album featuring Mueller's reinterpretations of Bach's greatest hits (Disc 1) plus two original jazz piano suites by Mueller (Disc 2). Inventive, playful, joyous, beautiful, full of emotion and intelligence. Mueller embraces the sense of timelessness one achieves when in the state of flow, bridging the centuries, letting Bach's 300 year old manuscripts inspire through new expression. Jazz influences include Brad Mehldau, Fred Hersch, Gerald Clayton. "This may be the pianist-composer’s most ambitious and sophisticated recording. Highly recommended." Fanfare Magazine's 2015 Editor's Choice.
Of Two Minds cover
Of Two Minds: The Music of Frédéric Chopin and Tobin Mueller is the final addition to Mueller's "Masterworks Trilogy" in which he explores the intersections of classical and jazz piano. Mueller reinterprets Chopin's most iconic piano solos (Disc 1) and uses the preludes to inspire three original jazz piano sonatas (Disc 2). Seductive, rebellious, heroic and beautiful. Jazz influences include Chick Corea, Dave Brubeck, Keith Jarrett. "One would be hard-pressed to find an artist with a more creative musical mind than Tobin Mueller’s." Fanfare Magazine's 2016 Editor's Choice.
Impressions of Water and Light cover
Impressions of Water & Light is an exploration of the cross-inspirations between Impressionist and jazz piano, including adaptations of music by Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Satie, Ibert and Carpenter. Tobin uses the written notes as if they are light and his imagination as if it is water, creating all new interpretations. This post-Impressionist music illustrates the intimacy between jazz and Impressionist music. You will never hear these works the same again. The gorgeous CD booklet is a work of art in itself, pairing an Impressionist painting with each piece. One of the three album in Mueller's "Masterworks Trilogy".
Impressions of Water and Light cover
Midwinter Born is a collection of jazz piano interpretations of traditional Christmas carols. Mueller captures the quiet simplicity, expectant playfulness and over-riding joy of the season. A delightful and sometimes surprising album destined to become one of your annual holiday favorites. The 18 track album includes: First Noel, Bring A Torch Jeanette Isabella, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Holy Night, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Carol of the Bells, Lo How A Rose E'er Bloom, Good King Wenceslas, Still, Still, Still and many more.
Morning Whispers cover
Morning Whispers is Tobin's first solo piano collection, a song cycle of tragic beauty. Music of healing and introspection. The use of key changes, unusual time signatures, and other variational devices makes this work involving, not merely New Age background music. Its gentle intensity, however, does not detract from its healing essence, its sense of inner joy. Influences include Aaron Copland, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Bill Evans, David Lanz, Liz Story. Several of these piano pieces have since been used in film and documentaries.
13 Masks cover
13 Masks is Tobin's second solo piano collection. An exploration of the links between avant-garde 20th Century music and jazz. Tobin used illustrations of 13 medieval masks to inspire songs combining ragtime, jazz and 20th Century avant-garde classical. Influences include Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, Art Tatum, Scott Joplin, John Medeski, as well as classical composers Shostakovich, Ligeti, Bartok. These pieces will startle and delight. "A truly unique album with music to really sink your teeth into."
Afterwords cover
Afterwords - Combining spoken word and solo piano, Tobin "illustrates" his favorite works of literature with a wide variety of new musical compositions. He pays homage to classic authors like Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Faulkner, as well as new authors Dave Eggers, Chuck Palahniuk, Aimee Bender and China Miéville. Musical influences include Oscar Peterson, Hiromi, Brad Maldheu, Fred Hersch, John Taylor, even Keith Emerson. "An astonishing work of art." Jazziz's 2017 Critics' Choice.
Afterwords: Bonus Tracks cover
Afterwords: Solo Piano Bonus Tracks - For those of you who prefer music without any interruptions, seven of the best tracks from Afterwords have been remastered with the talking edited out. Originally conceived for distribution to jazz radio stations, this Bonus Album is now avaiilable to the egeneral public. Influences include Oscar Peterson, Hiromi, Brad Maldheu, Fred Hersch, John Taylor; post-bop, stride, new age, classic jazz.
Standard Deviations cover
Standard Deviations - Jazz/Blues - Although this is mainly an ensemble album, half the tracks on Disc 2 of this two volume recording are solo piano arrangements. Think of this is a piano album with fabulous guest artists sitting in on 2/3s of the tunes! See Standard Deviations project page for complete Liner Notes and several Bonus Tracks. "The greatest collection of reimagined standards in the last decade."
Tobin's Rock Collection
Progressive Rock
Audiocracy cover
AUDIOCRACY is an international progressive rock collective. Their poetic writing and virtuosic performances make their high energy music life-affirming and uplifting, even considering the apocalyptic nature of their first release. Revolution's Son has been called "a masterpiece in the Epic Prog tradition." Progressive Magazine gave it 4 out 5 stars. Th story follows a revolutionary who comes to The City to be a catalyst for change and a prophet of truth. He falls into an Underground that urges a less innocent approach to change, leading to a post-apocalyptic finish. High energy, impressionistic prog.
Alternative Rock
A Bit of Light cover
A Bit of Light - A progressive folk / cross-genre collection of songs Tobin's been accumulating for a decade, A Bit of Light includes some of his favorite collaborations with saxophonists, fiddle players and guitarists, mixing jazz, bluegrass, tango and folk-rock. World renown violinist Entcho Todorov, Grammy winner saxophonist Danny McCaslin and L.A.'s Woody Mankowski, Enlish fiddler player Martyn Kember-Smith and guitarist John Luper provide fabulous highlights. The CD comes with a digital booklet in PDF format.
If I Live Long Enough cover
If I Could Live Long Enough - Previously unreleased outtakes from earlier projects, including the 1998-1999 Rain Bather sessions, the 2004-2006 MacJams collaborations, and selected songs from two of Mueller's musicals: Creature and Runners In A Dream. Featuring acoustic guitar by Grammy winner Michael Hedges, vocals by Woody Mankowski and Emily Rohm, and some of Mueller's best songwriting. Six free Bonus Tracks available here.
September 11 Project
September 11 Project cover
September 11 Project: Ten Years Later - Music written following 9/11/2001. Tobin was asked to participate in the 10th anniversary at Ground Zero ceremony and revisted these songs. He decided to put them out as an album instead of keep them to myself. Since he was unable to sing at the event, after contracting a lung disorder, this music gained layers of poignancy. Recorded in the months following the tragedy.
Tobin's Standards Collection
Standard Deviations cover
Standard Deviations - Jazz/Blues - The only instrumental album in Tobin's "Standards" collection. An homage to Monk, Ellington, Gershwin, Brubeck, Hoagy Carmichael, Lennon-McCartney, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Henri Mancini, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer and more, featuring great players and innovative arrangements. "The greatest collection of reimagined standards in the last decade."
Song Of Myself cover
Song Of Myself - Tobin's favorite songs from The American Songbook, reinterpretted. Intimate, heartfelt, devistatingly honest music. Complete lyrics and song notes are linked from Tobin's Song of Myself page. Ballads, blues, showtunes, folk rock, jazz - the music of Tobin's roots. These are songs he's song for decades, arrangements that have evolved and matured with him. "American Tune" by Paul Simon. "Blackbird" by Paul McCartney. Bob Dylan's "Dignity." A Joni Mitchell and an Elton John medly. "Being Alive" from Company (Stephen Sondheim). "Impossible Dream" from Man of la Mancha. "Oh Danny Boy." "Frozen Man" by James Taylor. Many more, plus two original songs by Tobin Mueller.
Hard Place To Find cover
Hard Place To Find - Tobin has released a second volume of his favorite songs from The American Songbook. Complete lyrics and song notes are linked from Tobin's Hard Place To Find project page. "Still Crazy" by Paul Simon. Bob Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm" and "Bob Dylan's Dream." Richie Haven's "Paradise." "Dulcinea" from Man of la Mancha. "Alfie" by Bacharach. "Somewhere" from West Side Story. Many more, plus one original song by Tobin Mueller. All songs have to do with journeying, questing, searching. Released June 2nd, 2013. "Tobin Mueller is something of a Renaissance man of the arts, and 'Hard Place To Find' presents another volume in his prolific and impressive output. More of an art-music album than a pop release, I recommend it if you are looking for something different and deeply personal!" - Kathy Parsons, Mainly Piano
A Bit of Light cover
A Bit of Light - A progressive folk / cross-genre collection of songs featuring Mueller's vocals and a long list of his best friends and collaborators, including world renown violinist Entcho Todorov, Grammy winner saxophonist Danny McCaslin, L.A. saxophonist Woody Mankowski, English fiddler player Martyn Kember-Smith and Texan guitarist John Luper provide fabulous highlights. The music melds jazz, bluegrass, tango and folk-rock. The CD comes with a digital booklet in PDF format.
If I Live Long Enough cover
If I Could Live Long Enough - Previously unreleased outtakes from earlier projects, including the 1998-1999 Rain Bather sessions, the 2004-2006 MacJams collaborations, and selected songs from two of Mueller's musicals - Creature and Runners In A Dream. Featuring acoustic guitar by Grammy winner Michael Hedges, vocals by Woody Mankowski and Emily Rohm, and some of Mueller's best songwriting. 6 free Bonus Tracks available here.
September 11 Project cover
September 11 Project: Ten Years Later - Music written following 9/11/2001. Tobin was asked to participate in the 10th anniversary at Ground Zero ceremony and revisted these songs. He decided to put them out as an album instead of keep them to myself. Since he was unable to sing at the event, after contracting a lung disorder, this music gained layers of poignancy. Recorded in the months following the tragedy.
Children's Educational Music: CenterStage-Musicals
CenterStage cover
One of the highlights of Tobin's career was working with the United Nations and environmental NGOs during the late 80s and early 90s. In addition to writing environmental plays for youths that toured the world, he help plan international events that empowered youths in the worldwide environmental movement. Tobin wrote the tune that was adopted as the UNEP Youth theme song: We Are The Ones.

From 1987 to 1994, before moving to New York City and concentrating on Broadway and Off Broadway theatre, he wrote a series of youth educational musicals through CenterStage Productions:

To Save the Planet, an environmental musical.
Danger Dinosaurs, about the exctinction of the dinosaurs and the importance of friends.
Music of the Planets, about the solar system.
Mickey Spleen Saves the Day, swing-jazz anatomy musical.
I Want to Know, about the history of science & invention.
The Sound of Money, about economics.
Say "Yes" to Life, anti-drug/pro-self musical.
Frankenspell Superstar, Tale of a Man-Made Messiah, based on Frankenstein.
Robin Hood and the Free People of the Forest, musical drama about freedom and revolution.
Tobin Mueller: The Best of the CenterStage Years, a 2-volume 44-track compilation.

*Available directly from Tobin Mueller. Contact him for more information.