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Fanfare Magazine interview, copyright © 2014 by Fanfare, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

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Playing What He Hears: Tobin Mueller

BY CARLA MARIA VERDINO-SÜLLWOLD

“As I get older, I just want to play what I hear.” The composer/jazz pianist is talking about the creative process that has led him to produce a spate of original, colorful, and distinctively different recordings in the past eight years. “I want to get things down while I can,” Tobin Mueller confesses, referring to health issues which have influenced his decision to spend much of his time in the recording studio and to self-produce his four last albums. The resulting projects — Rain Bather, Midwinter Born, Thirteen Masks, and Impressions of Water and Light — have revealed delightfully diverse facets of the artist’s fertile imagination. Fanfare was able to speak to Mueller from his Connecticut home about these releases, his upcoming projects, and his long and versatile career as a musician, poet, photographer, and playwright.

Let’s start by talking about your most recent release, Impressions of Water and Light. You described the music in this CD as “Neoclassical Post Impressionist Pastoral Jazz.” Can you explain that moniker and talk a little about your process of creating these arrangements and compositions?

I called it that a bit tongue in cheek, but Impressionist music is essentially pastoral — gentle wind, running brooks, the play of light on water. But it also experiments with pre-jazz harmonies, modes, lack of resolutions. There is a dreamy context, and I wanted to retain that poetic aspect. I originally thought that all the arrangements would have a jazz feel to them, but as I began playing the pieces, I found myself retaining more of the Impressionist style than I thought I would. So I began to think of the whole project as evolutionary — as the combining of Neoclassical and jazz roots, Impressionism, and New Age all together. I played what I heard and let the music lead me.

I tried to pick [Impressionist] pieces that already had a potential-jazz feel to them. Ragtime was being shaped in this country while Ravel and Debussy were writing in Europe. Debussy, especially, took inspiration from ragtime on a few occasions. But jazz would take inspiration from Debussy, as well. There are sections in Gerswin’s Rhapsody in Blue, for example, that could have been taken from Debussy. Plus, the whole sense of rethinking form and harmonic resolution played into the freer thinking jazz composers. When I was a child, I listened to Debussy and Gershwin, side by side, the way other kids listened to Elvis. Debussy was my grandfather’s favorite composer and Gershwin my mother’s. Also, I heard piano pieces such as Debussy’s La cathédrale engloutie orchestrated for orchestra, which, as a youth, made it easier to hear the parallels to Gershwin.

As for the process, I began by reinterpreting the actual [Impressionist] music. I attacked each arrangement by first playing the sheet music, but sometimes I didn’t get too far before I started improvising. My intent wasn’t to make it so different that you couldn’t tell what the melody was. Nor was I trying to quote exactly, but rather rearrange and expand off of the original music. For example, in Jeux d’eux, it sounds as if I am playing Ravel's opening theme, but I’m actually not. I had played the piece for about a week and I thought “How can I change anything; it’s so perfect?” So I put the music aside and began to play from memory. I tried to capture the emotion, but played a different melody and chord progression. The only place in that piece where I quote the original is in the middle section, and, ironically, it sounds as if I am making that section up.

How did you put it all together and what made you decide to produce such an attractive booklet with Impressionist paintings to accompany the music?

I included the art to help the listener imagine what Debussy, for example, might have been looking at when he conceived Rêverie. I wanted to show the kinds of inspiration the original Impressionist composers might have had from the visual Impressionists who preceded and influenced them.

I love art; it is very much part of my life. I manage a visual art web site; I am surrounded by art in my home; many of my friends are painters; I am a photographer. I have written for the stage where I am interested in telling a very specific visual story. Since I often imagine art while playing, I thought it would be nice to pair the music with paintings. Since the project was about Impressionist music, using Claude Monet, Renoir, Mary Cassatt, Jean Frédéric Bazille and Paul Signac was a no brainer. It was very enjoyable finding matching works of art.

The changing quality of light animates the Impressionist painters’ work. How is that flickering, transcendence, even transparency part of your music?

Impressionism was meant to capture a transient moment, to convey a complexity of emotions, to have the quality of an unfinished I'm-in-the-process technique. If a classical painter were to stop at a certain point in his process, his painting would almost look like an Impressionist work. By showing the transitory nature of surfaces, they spoke to something deeper. The Impressionists perfected that sense of the moment. Their work requires the viewer’s personal subconscious or pre-conscious interpretation.

The piano is a personal, single-person instrument, like being a solitary painter. It is also good at sounding like glinting light, particularly in the high notes and in the colors it can produce. I like the way some of these [Impressionist] composers understood the shifting focus of light and emotion; they looked at a theme from many angles. Much of their music seemed from a specific point of view, like painting, yet they were not merely telling a story, but also their thinking (and feeling) within the story.

Some of the choices on the disc are obvious—Debussy, Ravel, Satie, for example—but why John Alden Carpenter?

Tango Américaine is not really an Impressionist piece. Carpenter was writing ragtime and classical works and art songs, but often brought an element of Impressionism into play. In the middle of his tango there is a surprising section which could have been written by Debussy. It’s as if the two dancers stop and look at each other, share this intimate moment, and then go back to finish the tango. It shows how even in 1924, after most composers had abandoned Impressionism, it was still impacting here and there. Carpenter is also the only American composer I included.

What were the influences on your “Christmas album,” Midwinter Born?

I wanted to stay away from modern carols. I wanted to present a non-commercial non-religious aspect of Christmas, if that makes any sense. I chose old French and English carols and personalized them more than modernized them. I was influenced by modal New Age jazz and hymns, but also other styles. I think Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck were main influences, but I drew from my life's musical experiences more than any specific genre.

What is it about the music of Christmas that has such a perennial appeal?

Christmas music reaches back into your childhood, to your fundamental longings and memories. It’s about birth, starting over, forgiveness, hope. It is full of magic and mystery, tradition and memory. I worked on the project in the summer, so that made the music relevant in a different sense, not just as a holiday album. We live in a culturally fractured world. Christmas music is one of the few remaining shared musical languages we have.

If Midwinter Born is one of your most accessible albums, you have said Thirteen Masks is one of your least. Why?

Thirteen Masks jolts the listener. I used these ghoulish old German masks as a departure point, pairing a mask to each piece. I tried to write music that I might think of right before I fall asleep — at that point where I am thinking of something else and music interrupts my thoughts. I was going back to where my imagination was leading me and not to where the chord progression should go. “Chaos of the Subconscious” was my working title.

My musical imagination has always worked like that, but most musical forms require more discipline and rule-following. Thirteen Masks was my way of divorcing myself from my musical career and starting over. I listened to inner voices, ignoring all external producers, directors, collaborators and agents. It was an experiment that had lasting benefits, even if reviewers found it jarring.

When I started piano lessons in third grade, I was given a John Thompson book of pieces to learn. One was “The Fairy Court.” It had this processional quality, but I would wonder “What happens after they process in? Do they sit down and start to eat? Does the jester start performing? Do they dance or is there a fairy lullaby?” I would sit at the piano and play for hours in a kind of stream of consciousness. Even as a child, I leaned toward musical theater storytelling.

These three CDs are solo piano albums. How was the experience of Rain Bather, an ensemble recording, different?

It was much more complicated: writing charts, organizing so many people. And, of course, it is expensive to record a large group, so I had to push myself even when I didn’t feel well. (Mueller suffers from A1AD, a genetic protein deficiency disease which especially affects the lungs, exacerbated by his volunteer work in the aftermath of 9/11.) If I am writing for other people, I try to highlight their talents. Think of Count Basie: his band did not exist so he could show off; he had many clever solo moments, but he was showcasing his musicians and the arrangements, not himself.

With an ensemble, you have to capture the moment at its freshest. When you are performing solo, you can play a piece over and over, but with a jazz band, , as soon as you discover something together during the first run throughs, you have to record that before it’s lost. Never tire out your band.

Post-production for large ensembles can also be more time consuming.

Music has been part of your life from boyhood. Did you feel you were destined to be a musician?

My mother says no, but I am certain she groomed me to be a musician/playwright. My grandfather had been a violinist for silent films, and my grandmother accompanied him on the piano. With the coming of the talkies and the Depression, he lost that job and was never as happy again in other jobs. My mother saw this as a dream he would never accomplish, and she wanted me to achieve the goals he didn’t. She was also a frustrated jazz singer, exchanging motherhood with pursuing a career. Her dying wish was that I should “not worry about money, just make history.” She meant that I should fulfill my (her lost) destiny in music, or the stage.

You have been active in so many interdisciplinary creative forms—music, theater, writing. Can you talk about your theatre work and some of your favorite recurring themes? Your musical, Creature, for example was based on the Frankenstein myth.

Frankenstein is one of the great modern allegories with its themes of soul, soullessness, and science. I rewrote Creature several times for different audiences and directors and perfected the characters to represent different aspects of our modern age. In my show, the chorus members are spirits of the Creature’s body parts, creating a cacophony of noise that the creature has to filter out in order to find his own voice.

When you take a well-known myth as your inspiration, your play naturally has the element of analogy to it. The audience comes to see both the original and your reinterpretation. I am always fascinated by the meaning these contrasts can bring to an audience.

Plus, I love progressive rock, and a technologically driven theme like Frankenstein lends itself to that sort of music. Creature is a progressive rock opera.

And what about some of your other theatrical successes— Robin Hood or Runners in a Dream?

Robin Hood or Freedom’s First Light (it had several titles) was my longest-running show. I adapted the themes — how we define freedom, and how sending young men off to war (to the Crusades, in Robin Hood's time) changes people and society — to the post-Vietnam era. It was easier to discuss certain aspects of these themes within a well-known "children's" story. Robin Hood also comes at the time, historically, that the Magna Carta was written, so I wove in some of my favorite history lessons, as well.

Runners in a Dream, which is based on my collaborator’s mother’s childhood holocaust experience, is my most intimate musical. It was not “just” a story of surviving a concentration camp, but how that psychological toll affected her entire life. Living in a dream world helped her survive, but grasping reality as an adult became a burden. Ultimately, both shows are about transcendence. After mounting large several cast musicals, I needed to create something on a smaller scale. This story touched me deeply. And, in the end, the girl survives, as does her son.

What do you think the function of music theater is in the modern world, and how has Broadway and off-Broadway theater changed since you first worked there?

Musical theater has changed so much since the late 1980s.

At its best, theater can be an agent of internal confrontation. It can inspire change or fortify something inside you. At its most banal, it is merely a tourist destination. The late 1990s saw what I call the “Disneyfication” of Broadway. Then, after 9/11, for many years it was difficult to mount serious theater, which is what interests me the most. It was gotten much better recently, however, and I've attended some fabulous productions in the last few years. I think the future of theater lives in off-off Broadway and the many fabulous regional companies out there producing new works.

You are also a poet. Of all the creative languages in which you express yourself, which is the most satisfying and where does music fit?

My health requires that I avoid stress, and writing lyrics was always a painful process for me. It would take me 4 to 10 times longer than composing the music. I don’t write much poetry or lyrics any more. I still jot down ideas, poetic lines, or outline concepts for a new project, but then stress gets the better of me and file it away. I don’t even keep a journal anymore. Heck, even lengthy emails are annoying to write. I work mostly in the recording studio or at my piano in my living room.

And when you create a studio recording, what acoustic are you striving for or does it vary by project?

If I am recording a big band piece, I want to get the sense of a live big band sound in a large venue. If I am working with a combo, I want the feeling of playing in a smaller venue, like at the Village Vanguard. I’ll put the microphones closer and try to minimize the room sound. I have been inspired by the film about Glenn Gould and the way he placed his eight mikes so that he could create a stereo, reverb mix in the room itself. But when I record solo piano, I prefer it to be very inmate, as if your head is nearly inside the piano, to approximate the sound I hear when playing.

Your health has also placed limitations on your own singing and other practical aspects of music making. How difficult is that for you as an artist?

Most of my career I wrote music for someone else to sing, usually stage actors, but I’ve always liked to hear a songwriter perform his own work. I still do that at home, by myself, but I don’t have a wide range anymore, and I am limited by bouts of coughing and fatigue. Still, not singing doesn’t bother me that much. I love to sit at the piano and simply play, see where my playing takes me.

And explain what you mean when you say that your work has been colored by having “ghosts on your shoulders”?

No other event has colored my life more than my sister’s death in 1972. From the time I was 16 to when I was about 36, she was my internal audience. I flew everything I wrote by her, in my imagination. What I created had to be worthy of her. It was only after I took care of my father in his dying years that I was finally able to let the weight of death go. To paraphrase Auden, “the meaning of his death is shaped by what you do with your life.”

What future projects do you have on the drawing board?

Usually one of my albums carries me over to the next. For example, after I finished Midwinter Born, I had a chord progression I liked but didn’t get to use, and I began playing the melody of Clair de lune over it. That started me on Impressions of Water and Light. And now, I’m thinking that what I did with the Impressionist pieces, I could do with J. S. Bach. Bach was always one of my favorite composers. I worked on his music in college. A composition like “Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring” is such a tightly woven, structured piece and lends itself well to my style of jazz piano. I would like to see if I can create two CDs, the first reinterpreting Bach and the second playing my own compositions inspired by him. I think I will call it Flow: The Music of J. S. Bach and Tobin Mueller. The concept of “flow” can easily be applied to Bach: When you play his works, you become so immersed in what you are doing that you lose your sense of time and space.

Letting the music lead him where it goes, traversing the boundaries of creative languages and dimensions has been and likely will continue to be the hallmark of Tobin Mueller’s protean art.

- Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold, FANFARE (subsciption required to view)

To read the Fanfare Magazine review of 3 Mueller CDs, go here.

Tobin's Solo Piano Collection
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, Mueller embraces Romanticism at its core, creating music that's distinctly personal and deeply poetic. Jazz, Blues, New Age and Romantic, Mueller weaves all strands of music into a single fabric. Achieved Fanfare Magazine's 2016 Editor's Choice Award.
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. Modal Jazz, New Age, Neo-Classical and Baroque all combined in seamless synergy. Achieved Fanfare Magazine's 2015 Editor's Choice Award. Flow is second album of "The Masterworks Trilogy".
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. Impressions is second album of "The 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 wonder of Christmas unfolds as Mueller takes you on a yuletide journey through his musical imagination. 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. 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 Frederic Chopin, Claude Debussy, 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. This project evolved from discussions about the role the subconscious plays in creativity. It is also an exploration of the links between avant-garde 20th Century music and jazz. Tobin used his illustrations of 13 Masks to inspire songs combining ragtime, jazz and 20th Century avant-garde classical. He let his subconscious lead the way, creating phrases and variations that pleased something deep inside, often avoiding normal forms and variations. 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. An eclectic mix of original of songs.
Afterwords cover
Afterwords - Combining spoken word and solo piano, Tobin "illustrates" his favorite works of literature with a wide variety of new musical compositions. Paying homage to classic authors like Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Vonnegut and Faulkner, as well as contemporary authors such as Dave Eggers, Chuck Palahniuk, Aimee Bender and China Miéville, Mueller spins musical stories that will make you consider each author in a new light. Every track is a musical meditation, guided by inspiring and insightful quotations recited and underscored by Mueller. Taken as a whole, the album becomes a personal memoir of Mueller's life journey. The 18 tracks combine to represent the true breadth of his musical influences and accumulated experiences.
Tobin's Other CD Collections
Tobin's Jazz Collection
Come In Funky cover
Come In Funky Old School Funk and and small combo Jazz featuring legendary bassist Ron Carter. This eclectic blend of Jazz and Funk is the second collaboration between keyboardist Tobin Mueller and saxophonist Woody Mankowski. Half of these tunes will transport you back in time to when most everything (music, clothes, language) owed its hipness to the Funk wing of 1970s jazz. The other half resonate with intimacy, playfulness and humor. A delight. For more information, see: Come In Funky Project page. Released May 4 2014, in honor of Ron Carter's 77th birthday.

"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 larger ensemble. These original tracks represent their personal journey through jazz influences -- from 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. Even the blues are given Mueller/Mankowski's uniquely bop-funk treatment. In all, the duo's originality permeate each track, each jazz sub-genre.

This is joyous music. It reminds us of the happiness we relive when returning to our musical roots. Mueller/Mankowski remind us how the personalities of certain eras continue to assert their influence and power.

"The Muller’s Wheel" title is based on the biological concept that mutation and DNA recombination creates cycles of growth and loss. It serves as a metaphor for the ebb and flow of the synthesis and creativity Mueller and Mankowski apply to their musical influences. The tracks are arranged in historical sequence, and the listener appreciates the cross-pollination between each of these genres. Listening from beginning to end creates a cyclical pilgrimage. It's rhythms and inventive flights of fancy invite the listener along for many return trips.
Rain Bather cover
Rain Bather is a jazz ensemble 80 minute long play CD. It features superlative solo performances byan 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, electric piano, synth; composer
Woody Mankowski - soprano saxophone
Chris Mueller - acoustic piano
Jeff Cox - acoustic bass
Dane Richeson - drums & percussion
Tom Washatka - tenor saxophone
Doug Schnieder - tenor sax
Ken Schaphorst - flugelhorn
Bob Levy - trumpet
Sal Giorgianni - flute
Bill Barner - clarinet, additional sax
McBoy - electric guitars

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
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.
Poetry / Spoken Word
As Simple As Soap cover
As Simple As Soap - Del lends his deep voice and unique personality to Tobin's award-winning poetry. Love, fatherhood, history, death and daily meanings are all touch on in this combination of poetry and short story offerings. Each spoken word selection is accompanied by Mueller's visually stimulating background music that adds great emotional depth. The force and color of Del's voice earns this collection a high recommendation; the breathtaking and varied accompaniments make this a truly fascinating addition to Tobin Mueller's collected works.
Afterwords cover
Afterwords - Combining spoken word and solo piano, Tobin "illustrates" his favorite works of literature with a wide variety of new musical compositions. Paying homage to classic authors like Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Vonnegut and Faulkner, as well as contemporary authors such as Dave Eggers, Chuck Palahniuk, Aimee Bender and China Miéville, Mueller spins musical stories that will make you consider each author in a new light. Every track is a musical meditation, guided by inspiring and insightful quotations recited and underscored by Mueller. Taken as a whole, the album becomes a personal memoir of Mueller's life journey. The 18 tracks combine to represent the true breadth of his musical influences and accumulated experiences.