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Standard Deviations
Jazz Standards - Volume 1 and Volume 2
Standard Deviations Cover
available September 2018

Jump to:  Volume 1  •  Volume 2

Jazz Composers

Standard Deviations is an exploration of and an homage to the great Jazz Standards of the 20th century. These unique arrangements include fresh harmonic and conceptual "deviations". Some combine multiple tunes, letting one melody "deviate" into another, showing how many of these celebrated tunes are related to each another.

Volume One highlights Tobin’s uptempo arrangements and is dedicated to his father who preferred fast-paced instrumental jazz ensembles; Volume Two has quieter arrangements and is dedicated to Tobin's mother who loved the slower vocal ballads of the swing era.

Although Tobin's acoustic grand is the central instrument (a third of the tracks are mainly piano), this is more an ensemble album interspersed with solo piano reveries. Instrumental guests include Grammy winning blues guitarist Paul Nelson (Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Paul Nelson Band) and Tobin's long-time collaborator saxophonist Woody Mankowski (The Muller's Wheel, Come In Funky, Rain Bather). Four tracks include percussionists Lamar A. Moore (Lettuce, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe) and six feature drummer Mike Nappi (J Geils Band, The Orion Experience). See track lists below for specific player appearances.

The album is produced by Factory Underground Studio's Kenny Cash, who also plays bass on a "Eleanor Rigby" (Volume 1, Track 2).

In addition to these musicians, Tobin layers in vintage electric pianos and synths, B3 organ, prepared and altered acoustic pianos, and Trilogy bass, generating a wide variety of textured settings, even when other players are not involved. The collection is full of unexpected delights and "deviations" into many genres.

Art is meant to challenge convention, open up thought as well as emotion, redefine potential, challenge one's perspective and break down boundaries. As these songs morph between styles and juxtapose melodies, we are freed, just a bit, of preconceptions and established patterns. We discover new details, contemplate correlations we may have missed, embrace imaginative deviations and reintegrate our memory with refreshed meaning.

Jazz is an improvisational medium. Although Jazz musicians have a deep appreciation of musical history, they rarely play a song the same way twice. They are committed to the present, as both listeners and innovators. They see the here and now as a past/future nexus, where all "deviations" both support and extend music as an art form. Each piece in this collection illustrates how modernity evolves from tradition. In this way, Standard Deviations becomes an extension of Mueller's Masterworks Trilogy (Flow, Of Two Minds, Impressions of Water & Light) and could well be considered its fourth installment.

Every track is both streamable and downloadable (MP3s). Tobin has included several alternative takes and initial concept tracks to present a small window into the recording/production process. These alternative tracks are not available anywhere else and do not appear on the CD.

Photos from right sidebar: Billie Holliday, Hoagy Carmichael, Louis Armstrong & Bob Thiele, Thelonious Monk, W.C. Handy, George Gershwin, John Lennon & Paul McCartney, Weather Report, Duke Ellington, Richard Rodgers, Billy Strayhorn, Leonard Bernstein, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Lionel Bart, Paul Desmond & Dave Brubeck, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Charlie Parker, Henri Mancini. Players below: Kenny Cash, Paul Nelson, Mike Nappi, Tobin Mueller, Lamar Moore, Woody Mankowski, Pat Wayland.

The Players
Volume One
Volume One God Bless the Child° / What a Wonderful World
St. Louis Blues*°†
Eleanor Rigby*°‡^
Birdland*° / Long Distance Runaround*
Moanin'^† / Blue Monk^†
After Hours° / Monk's Point°
Cool^
Take Five^
Straight, No Chaser^°
Take the "A" Train*±

Performers:
* percussionist Lamar Moore
^ percussionist Mike Nappi
° saxophonist Woody Mankowski
† guitarist Paul Nelson
± guitarist Pat Wayland
‡ electric bassist Kenny Cash

MP3s and Liner Notes:

1.
God Bless the Child / What A Wonderful World
God Bless the Child - by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog, Jr;
What a Wonderful World - by Bob Thiele (as "George Douglas") and George David Weiss.

. . .
pre-production concept track

Departing from Billie Holiday's original empathic performance, I use high energy funk-fusion to capture the chaotic energy of youth sorting out the confused potential of a world without proper moorings. Half way through, the tune morphs 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.

Note: The pre-production/pre-sax "concept track" (see above) is the original demo track I brought into the studio, before Woody's soprano saxophone contributions, etc. Comparing the two helps to illustrate how player collaborations influence the final result.

2.
St. Louis Blues
St. Louis Blues - by W. C. Handy

. . .
pre-production concept track (long version)

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 rhythms played by drummer Lamar Moore gives this legendary tune a fresh feel. Woody's jazz saxophone interjections add yet another layer. But Grammy-winning Paul Nelson's electric guitar work becomes 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.

NOTE: The alternative version bonus track includes the original extended organ solo prior to the addition of drums, sax and guitars.

3.
Eleanor Rigby
Eleanor Rigby - primarily by Paul McCartney, credited to Lennon–McCartney of The Beatles

. . .
pre-production concept track

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. The dark harmonic beauty creates 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 defines 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.)

Note: The pre-production concept track represents the initial arrangement, prior to contributions from (in order of their contributions) percussionist Lamar Moore, saxophonist Woody Mankowski, drummer Mike Nappi and bassist Kenny Cash. The percussion on the demo consists of MOTU's World Instrument congas and djembes, as well as a standard MIDI drum set. Some of the MIDI work ended up being incorporated into portions of the final track, complementing both Lamar's hand percussion and Mike's drumming.

4.
Birdland Runaround
Birdland - by Joe Zawinul from Weather Report;
Long Distance Runaround - by Jon Anderson from Yes

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 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 as an introduction, but is into the middle frenetic piano solo 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 the end of a very long recording session!

5.
Moanin' Monk
Moanin' - by Bobby Timmons, first recorded by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers;
Blue Monk - by Thelonious Monk.

. . .
pre-production concept track

This begins as a fairly traditional handling of the great blues standard, Moanin' but transforms into modern fusion before Blue Monk takes over. Both drums and electric guitar have yet to be mixed in, although the drumming has been recorded. Mike Nappi's drumming adeptly fuses the jazz and rock world, setting the stage for Paul Nelson's powerful guitar work. My piano attempts to channel a bit of Thelonious, one of my favorite passtimes. The Trilogy bass weaves its a dreamy pulse feel just beneath the surface.

Note: The pre-production track lets you hear the concept brought to the studio prior to the drum and guitar collaborations that changed the feel of the arrangement.

6.
After Hours with Monk
After Hours - by Avery Parrish; with additional inspiration from Monk's Point - by Thelonious Monk.

The first recording of this jazz-blues classic was by Avery Parrish with the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra, on 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 track is the least "deviated" from it's original of all others in this collection, my homage to the blues roots of jazz.

7.
Cool
Cool - music by Leonard Bernstein, from West Side Story

This Big Band style arrangement features Mike Nappi on drums, anchoring the ensemble. In reality, however, it is a "simple" 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 why I wanted to write musicals. Every song in that show is brilliant.

8.
Take Five
Take Five - by Paul Desmond of The Dave Brubeck Quartet

. . .
piano only concept draft

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.
Straight, No Chaser
Straight, No Chaser - by Thelonious Monk

. . .
original composer's concept draft

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. (The version with me talking, before we added the drummer, is the first alternative track above.) Woody Mankowski's tenor sax adds to the atmospherics, then really kicks it up a notch with a great solo midway through. Mike Nappi's drumming grounds the piece, then propels it into its climax.

Note: The alternative version is the original concept track I first brought into the studio, before saxophone, vibes and drums were added. It consists of three pianos (2 acoustic and 1 electric) and bass, plus a prepared piano providing the percussion. (It sounds like a drum kit, but its really a piano filled with nails etc.) I thought it would be fun to share the bare bones idea before my producer Kenny Cash started suggesting changes.

10.
Take The "A" Train
Take the "A" Train - music by Billy Strayhorn.

. . .
pre-production concept track

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.

NOTE: The alternative preproduction concept track (see above) is all keyboards, synth drums and piano. A moody/chill arrangement was my original concept, but after hearing Lamar play, we switched gears.

Tobin in violet light
Volume Two
Volume Two Autumn Leaves / Ornithology
Stardust°
Am I Blue / Summertime
Moon River / Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Georgia On My Mind
Sophisticated Lady°
Fly Me To The Moon
The Way You Look Tonight / The Nearness of You^
Secret Love
My Funny Valentine
It Don't Mean a Thing / Fascinating Rhythm / I Got Rhythm
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes / People
Where Is Love
A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

Performers:
° saxophonist Woody Mankowski
^ percussionist Mike Nappi

MP3s and Liner Notes:

1.
Autumn Leaves
Autumn Leaves - music by Joseph Kosma; with quotations from Ornithology - by Charlie Parker and Benny Harris.

. . .
original version of Ornithology by The Charlie Parker Quintet

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). As a musician who as a teenager considered saxophone my main instrument, Autumn Leaves was the first jazz band tune I ever played. (I played alto sax.) As a saxophonist, I consider Charlie "Bird" Parker the greatest alto sax player. (His phrasing and innovations have influenced my piano playing, as well.) I couldn't resist the chance to combine the two: the swirling flight of leaves and birds.

Note: I've included a streamable mp3 of the original recording of Ornithology by The Charlie Parker Septet with Benny Harris on trumpet. This enables the listener to better appreciate the origins of the countermelodies I employ. Ornithology is a contrafact – a newly created melody written over the chord progression of another song, in this case the standard "How High the Moon". Both Autumn Leaves and Ornithology were first recorded in the same year, 1946.

2.
Stardust
Stardust - by Hoagy Carmichael

. . .
pre-sax concept draft

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 surprised her yet, hopefully, 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 to hear it.

3.
Am I Blue / Summertime
- draft w/ new ending (unmixed)
Am I Blue? - by Harry Akst and Grant Clarke, from Warner Bros's On with the Show!;
Summertime - music by George Gershwin, from Porgy and Bess

. . .
alternative ending

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 whimsy and 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. The new ending is more ethereal, more of a summer day spent in the backyard, surrounded by the security and leisure of youth; or, in my wife's case, in the beauty of her self-tended gardens. Currently, only the first take is available. I will post the second version soon.

4.
Moon River / Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Moon River - music by Henry Mancini, from Paramount Pictures' Breakfast at Tiffany's;
Somewhere Over the Rainbow - music by Harold Arlen, from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's The Wizard of Oz

After recording this medley on 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.

5.
Georgia On My Mind
Georgia On My Mind - by Hoagy Carmichael

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.

6.
Sophisticated Lady
Sophisticated Lady - music by Duke Ellington

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 would be an oxymoron in less capable hands) with melancholy. The arrangement slowly morphs into bewitched then frolicsome reverie. The current version is a raw early mix, without proper leveling, effects, etc.

7.
Fly Me To The Moon
Fly Me to the Moon - by Bart Howard (originally titled "In Other Words")

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 throughout) and to Keith Jarret during the subsequent variations. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

8.
The Way You Look Tonight / The Nearness of You
The Way You Look Tonight - music by Jerome Kern, from Swing Time;
The Nearness of You - music by Hoagy Carmichael, from Paramount Picture's Romance In The Park

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 the fit together almost seamlessly. (Certain liberties of timing were required to make them perfectly compatible.) There is an electric piano note at the beginning which will be removed on final mixing, please disregard. Also, the drums are not loud enough yet.

9.
Secret Love
Secret Love - music by Sammy Fain, from the musical film Calamity Jane

In 1953, this exquisitely balanced tune from the musical film Calamity Jane introduced Doris Day to the world. If this were the only version of the song, I would never have picked it for this collection. 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. Secret love can be thrilling, but more often ends in tragic longing and emptiness. I've tried to make this version more about sweet remembrance, however.

10.
My Funny Valentine
My Funny Valentine - music by Richard Rodgers, from Babes In Arms

My Funny Valentine is a show tune from the 1937 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical Babes in Arms. A popular jazz standard, 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. (Although it's impossible not to associate Chet Baker to this tune.) 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 to the experience an additional layer of nostalgia.

11.
Rhythm Medley
It Don't Mean a Thing - music by Duke Ellington;
Fascinating Rhythm and I Got Rhythm - music by George Gershwin

I've long wanted to combine these two rhythmically-themed Gershwin 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 standard "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.

12.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes / People
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes - music by Jerome Kern, from Roberta;
People - music by Jule Styne, from Funny Girl

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 romantiicism. Of course, everything falls apart by the end and eventually returns to the beginning, presumably to try the whole (relationship) thing all over again. Such is life. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes is another classic tune by composer Jerome Kern (and lyricist Otto Harbach) 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.

13.
Where Is Love
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 question who's answer often remains just beyond...

14.
A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square
A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square - music by Manning Sherwin

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 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.

Standard Deviations - alternative cover
Tobin's Jazz Collection
JAZZ ENSEMBLE
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
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.
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.
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.
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 book in a new light. Every track is a musical meditation, guided by entertaining and insightful quotations. The 17 tracks combine to represent the true breadth of his musical influences and accumulated experiences. Jazziz's 2017 Critics' Choice.