Loading page... Wait Bar Animation
TobinMueller.com Mobile Menu Close Button Mobile Menu Button
Home Bio Recordings Music Videos Photography Writings Illustrations Contact
What Survives
What Survives - Volume 1 and Volume 2 - Radio Edits
What Survives Cover
WHAT SURVIVES is available on Spotify, HearNow, Amazon, YouTube Videos, Qobuz
Radio Edits: Spotify, HearNow, Apple Music, Amazon, YouTube Music, Qobuz

Jump to:  Volume 1  •  Volume 2  •  Radio Edits  •  Ensemble  •  Reviews

Tobin Mueller works like a mad scientist, like Dr. Frankenstein himself. His music is filled with lyricism and reflection, invention and new creation. With fellow lab partners, he puts on goggles and gives new allure to what began as a Broadway show but ended up a Jazz Masterpiece."

- George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly

What Survives is a collection of original jazz recordings inspired by Tobin Mueller's Broadway musical, Creature. For the first time, all of the vocal jazz tracks have been included with the full ensemble recordings. Even some composer demos are included (on Volume 2).

The digital release of What Survives includes 26 tracks spread over 2 volumes. The CD release, What Survives - Radio Edits, condenses the project down to 15 tracks, edited for radio play. (The digital version of What Survives - Radio Edits includes 18 tracks.) [Radio Edits]

Liner notes (below) describe the stories behind the music, as well as the players on each track. Free MP3s are also available to both stream and download. Please check them out. [Radio Edits]

One of the freshest and most sheerly entertaining, intriguing and exciting recordings I've come across. The product of Tobin Mueller's kaleidoscopic mind. What Survives compositions range from progressive big band to funk, fusion to world to straight ahead jazz. This cascade of styles could be wearisome, but not in the hands of this sensitive composer, who moves the listener assuredly through the paces. Highly recommended."
- Brad Walseth, JazzChicago.net

What Survives moves from its opening nine member ensemble to various breakout groupings, mixing and matching players differently for each piece. The variation in pairings keeps the album dynamic and fresh. The vibe progresses from hip exuberance to rhapsodic melodrama, from intricate passion to graceful elegance. The layering of Mueller’s keys gives each track an organic feel.

Snatches energy out of the universe and toss it around like a meteor shower! Fusion jazz at its best. It reminds me of the days when Herbie Hancock’s Headhunter album was blowing our minds. It wreaks of that kind of inspiration."

- Dee Dee McNeil, Musical Memoirs

The featured artist on several tracks is saxophonist and vocalist Woody Mankowski, Tobin's long-time collaborator. Woody Mankowski and Tobin Mueller have teamed up on many albums, including Come In Funky (featuring Ron Carter), The Muller's Wheel, and Standard Deviations. As a featured vocalist and saxophonist, this album displays some of Mankowski's best work.

Jazz that takes you on a journey. Skillfully paced and plotted, this is a top notch experience for the instrumental music enthusiast...”
- Chris Spector, Midwest Record

(Mankowski has played on a few of Mueller's non-jazz albums as well, including If I Could Live Long Enough and A Bit of Light. Mankowski is currently working in L.A. as both a singer and saxophonist.)

Earlier versions of a few of these tracks were previously released under the title Rain Bather, winner of "Best Jazz Album of 2009" accolades. For What Survives, however, every track has been remastered, many have been edited, and most include additional layers of new keyboard/synth work, resulting in a warm and lively sound.

If anyone has any doubts about Tobin Mueller’s extraordinary versatility as both composer and performer, this album should take care of it. From smooth, sweet ballads to funky bravado to straight-ahead jazz; from solos to full-cast performances to duets and beyond; there is something for everyone. Vibrant, full of life, heartbreakingly sad... What Survives will rock your world!"
- Kathy Parsons, Mainly Piano

Creature is a Broadway show written by Mueller in 1995, based on a one-act musical composed in 1992, Frankenspell Superstar. Creature was performed at the John Houseman Theatre and the off-broadway venue The Thirteenth Street Theatre for an extended 18 month run. Originally a progressive rock opera, later versions incorporated jazz, fusion and R&B elements. The musical updates the Frankenstein story. Sympathetic to The Creature, it presents a 21 year old Victor Frankenstein (his age in Shelley's novel) trying to heroically overcome death, then getting sidetracked due to his (and his fiancé Elisabeth's) ambitions. The Creature escapes Frankenstein's castle into the terrifying freedom of the hills. Luckily, he meets a young girl who shows him the ropes of survival. However, in Mueller's version, the Creature is not immortal; rather, he is merely a prototype. Victor never meant him to last (an example of Victor's lack of empathy and forethought, and a nod to our modern throw-away culture). Once the Creature discovers that he is decaying, the mountain girl suggests he confront his creator and ask to be healed. The show ends in tragedy as the Creature sacrifices himself to save the mountain girl from the collapsing, burning castle. However, the surviving cast does seem to have learned a lesson of love and mortal compassion, in the end. For information and music from the original show, see Frankenspell Superstar/Creature.

Every track linked below is both streamable and downloadable. Shortened alternative takes from the Radio Edits CD are also available. [Radio Edits]

The jazz styles merge contemporary, progressive, big band, fusion, standard and funk, giving this collection a lively, upbeat feel. Mueller plays organ, synthesizer, electric and acoustic pianos with eloquence. The ensemble is exquisite, with many notable moments, including: Woody Mankowski’s driving soprano saxophone solo in Cliff’s Edge, Dane Richeson vibrant drums in Finding No Path, Ron Carter's cameo introducing Frankenfanny, Doug Scheider’s sublime tenor sax solo on the ballad Waltzing Night into Day, Mueller’s funky organ/synth interplays in Windowshade, and every one of the four vocal tracks, especially A Promise. The combination of acoustic and electric instruments adds to the variety, energy, and sheer delight of the album. The recording has a vibrant club-like ambiance, and the extended play is an added bonus."
- Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold, Fanfare Magazine

Jump to:  Volume 1  •  Volume 2  •  Radio Edits  •  Full Review

The Ensemble

Tobin Mueller - B3 organ, electric pianos, synths, acoustic piano
Woody Mankowski - soprano saxophone, vocals
Doug Schneider - tenor saxophone
Tom Washatka - tenor saxophone
Ken Schaphorst - flugelhorn
Bob Levy - trumpet
Dane Richeson - drums & percussion
Jeff Cox - acoustic bass
Chris Mueller - acoustic piano

Additional contributions from:
Ron Carter - bass
Bill Barner - clarinet
Martyn Kember-Smith - fiddle
Emily Rohm - vocals
Jessica Flood - vocals
The CenterStage Players

...captures at its zenith Mueller’s genius ability to dance in and out of motifs and themes, grooves and genres. He makes his unique takes on jazz sound effortless, expansive, beautiful and awesome..."

- John LaMantia, contributing critic for Downbeat Magazine


01. Cliff’s Edge [7:35]
02. Secret of Life [4:34]
03. A Promise [6:34]
04. Lightning Strikes [2:05]
05. Must Go Back [6:02]
06. The Shape of My Life [5:52]
07. I Wanna Fly [2:24]
08. Frankenfanny [3:32]
09. Dreams (When You Awake to Me) [4:51]
10. Caught in the Current [4:44]
11. Waltzing Night Into Day [7:46]
12. What Survives [9:24]


13. One Body of Man - A Duet [6:41]
14. Finding No Path [8:37]
15. River Runs Through Me [6:59]
16. Do I Know Him? [1:39]
17. Windowshade [8:28]
18. Let Me Pose for You [3:40]
19. The River Never Stops (composer’s demo) [7:32]
20. Dreams (reprise) featuring Emily Rohm [2:30]
21. Frankenspell Superstar [6:14]
22. Gonna School Ya [3:40]
23. Bring the Fire / Over the World (Broadway version) [8:05]
24. I Am (One Voice) [5:30]
25. This Is It (composer’s demo) [5:07]
26. Dénouement [4:04]

The album is produced by Factory Underground Studio, remastered by Tom Stewart, Kenny Cash and Tobin Mueller. Original recordings conducted by L.A. Sound at Lawrence University, Larry Darling, engineer. Additional mixing by Tom Washatka.

All songs by Tobin Mueller.
©1992, 1995, 2008-2009, 2020 Tobin Mueller.
Album art by Alan Perry.

Jump to:  Volume 2  •  Radio Edits  •  The Ensemble

The musicianship is always consistently right on the money, endowing each track with its own capacity to appeal to the attentive listener. This album will definitely appeal to those that take their jazz listening seriously."

- Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio

Volume One
Cliff's Edge
Full Ensemble, featuring: Doug Schneider, tenor sax; Woody Mankowski, soprano saxophone; Tobin Mueller, B3 organ

. . .
Radio Edit version

Many characters in the Frankenstein story walk a metaphorical cliff’s edge. In fact, Mary Shelley's novel ends with Victor chasing his Creature along the cliffs of Antarctica. However, this track refers to cliffs made of ambition, hubris and the blind pursuit of reckless creation. The melody is based on the tune "This One" (from the Broadway version), in which the spirits of the dead size up the potential changes Victor Frankenstein may bring into their lilves.* Victor is an interloper in their grave yard, digging up body parts and taking them into his lab. There is something about this one, however, that convinces the spirits to play along, mostly in the hopes of somehow rejoining the living and gaining one more chance at redemption.

*The spirits in Creature form the chorus. They represent the dead who were associated with the specific body parts brought back to life within the body of The Creature. (In the previous one-act version of the show, titled Frankenspell Superstar, the chorus was made up of a band of gypsies. Creature presents a darker, expanded adaptation of the Frankenstein story.

"Contemporary Big Band at its hippest. Soloists are superb. A thrilling ride."
- Industry Top 100

Secret of Life
Quintet: Bill Barner, clarinet; Tobin Mueller, B3 organ; Chris Mueller, acoustic piano; Jeff Cox, acoustic bass; Dane Richeson, drums

The melody is from a scene in Creature where Victor Frankenstein articulates the theory that unlocks the secret of life. This arrangement takes us on more of a jazz-oriented journey of shifting keys and new beginnings. Throughout the album, What Survives rotates between full ensemble pieces and breakout quartets/quintets. This is the first of the small breakouts. To hear the original melody, please see "Frankenspell Superstar" track 21, below, as sung by the Gypsy Chorus.

"A jazz-fusion tour de force. Each spin and turn opens the door to a new interpretive wrinkle that is sure to delight."
- The Cool Noise

A Promise
Featuring: Woody Mankowski, vocals; Doug Schneider, tenor sax; Chris Mueller, acoustic piano; Tobin Mueller, B3 organ; Jeff Cox, acoustic bass; Dane Richeson, drums

. . .
Radio Edit version

This soliloquy is sung by young Dr. Victor Frankenstein at his mother's grave. His mother had died in childbirth, after having him. Victor resolves to create a "world of change and promise", to conquer death, to help make sense of her death, to alleviate his own guilt. The promises discussed are many: promises to those who came before us, promises we make to ourselves, the promise our very birth creates, as well as promises never fulfilled... Woody Mankowski's touching vocal performance brings this poignant internal discussion to life. Doug Schneider's masterful tenor sax solo adds new layers of depth to the moment.

For complete lyrics (embedded in mp3), see: A Promise - lyrics.

"L.A. vocalist Woody Mankowski knocks it out of the park singing this moving ballad."
- Billboard Sound

Lightning Strikes
(Radio Edit) [2:05]
The Ensemble, featuring: Chris Mueller, acoustic piano; Tobin Mueller, B3 organ; Bob Levy, trumpet; Ken Schaphorst, fuglehorn

This track is actually taken from the Overture to Creature. Lightening is, of course, a repeating device throughout the story. Placing it after the moving ballad, A Promise, snaps the listener out of any sense of calm or repose that may have been temporarily embraced.

The Ensemble recreates an atmosphere of directed chaos, the frenetic intensity that drives much of the action on stage, as well as the ferocity and passion inside Victor Franksenstein's head.

Must Go Back
Quartet: Tobin Mueller, B3 organ; Chris Mueller, acoustic piano; Jeff Cox, acoustic bass; Dane Richeson, drums

. . .
Radio Edit version

Chris Mueller's piano drives the piece while Tobin Mueller's organ punctuates the action with organ jabs and melodic fragments. Dane Richeson's drumming adeptly switches from moody toms to light jazz rides. Bassist Jeff Cox has a well deserved solo moment toward the end, following Tobin's organ set of 4s. A balanced arrangement full of tenacity and story-telling.

The melody is based on a scene from Creature in which The Creature and the Mountain Girl decide to return to the castle. The Creature is beginning to decompose and seeks Dr. Frankenstein's help. The music conveys motion as well as emotion as they pass through perils along the way. The jazz musicians do a wonderful job capturing this haste, these trials, and the hope that will soon to be dashed...

The Shape Of My Life
Featuring: Woody Mankowski, vocals; Chris Mueller, acoustic piano; Tobin Mueller, electric piano/organ; Dane Richeson, drums/percussion

"What is the shape of my life?" Victor Frankenstein's self-questioning reaches new heights with this song, perfectly performed by Woody Mankowski. Whereas A Promise is sung at the beginning of the story, The Shape of My Life is song just before the ending, as he resolves to try and fix the mess he has made of things.

It should be noted that the Victor Frankenstein of Mueller's Creature is not just a mad scientist, but a sculptor as well. "A sculptor of flesh" as well as clay. This is helpful to know when it comes to some of the lyrics. For complete lyrics (embedded in mp3) plus a previous arrangement of the piece, see: The Shape of My Life - lyrics.

I Wanna Fly
Full Ensemble, featuring: Chris Mueller, acoustic piano; Tobin Mueller, B3 organ; Bob Levy, trumpet; Woody Mankowski, soprano sax

Bouyed by hope, this song depicts the moment The Creature breaks out of the castle's dungeon lab and escapes into the wilderness. He feels like he could fly.

The Ensemble, driven by Mueller's piano, skips among the echoing hills, celebrating liberation and joy. This arrangement is an excellent example of contemporary Big Band.

Trio, featuring: Ron Carter, basses; Woody Mankowski, saxes; Tobin Mueller, organs/drums

. . .
Radio Edit version

The Creature plays with the animals he has liberated from the laboratory, introducing them to the natural animals of the hills and forests.

First released on the album Come In Funky featuring Ron Carter, this track has been remastered (and, in the Radio Edit version, slightly shortened). Bass legend Ron Carter introduces the groove with mischievious exuberance, then switches to electric bass as the track gets funkier. Mueller's organ slides around with unpredicable energy, teasing us throughout. Makowski's layered saxes are tastey and masterful. The drums are all programmed by Tobin Mueller, a nod to the synthetic life Dr. Frankenstein was so enamored with.

Featuring: Woody Mankowski, vocals; Tobin Mueller, electric pianos, organ, synths; Chris Mueller, acoustic piano; Jeff Cox, acoustic bass; Dane Richeson, drums

This is Tobin Mueller's most recorded tune, appearing on a dozen different albums by various people sung in many styles. (Note: there is a reprise version sung by Emily Rohm included later on this album.)

Woody Mankowski's gentle rendition reminds us this is simply a lovely lullaby. Sung both by Victor Frankenstein over his still-sleeping Creature and then reprised by the Mountain Girl as the Creature naps between adventures later in the story. Mueller's piano solo is a highlight, so gentle, reassuring, pleasing and pure.

For lyrics (embedded in mp3), see: Dreams (When You Awake) - lyrics

Caught in the Current
Quintet: Tobin Mueller, B3 organ; Bill Barner, clarinet; Martyn Kember-Smith, fiddle; Chris Mueller, acoustic piano; Dane Richeson, percussion

Based on The River Never Stops (see Volume 2, track 19), this arrangement combines Celtic, Folk, New Age, Modal Jazz and Afro-Cuban influences. Dane Richeson layers 5 passes of percussion instruments collected from several continents. During the recording session, he laid out a dizzying array of instruments around him and picked up one after another as the tape continued to roll. The Mueller's play off each other as only conncected relatives can, with verve and inutitive feeling. Kember-Smith's fiddle and Bill Barner's clarinet pass melodic bits back and forth like dance partners, allowing themselves to be swept up in the current of this 6/8 gigue.

Waltzing Night Into Day
Quintet: Tobin Mueller, B3 organ; Doug Schneider, tenor sax; Chris Mueller, acoustic piano; Jeff Cox, acoustic bass; Dane Richeson, drums

. . .
Radio Edit version

Tobin wrote this melody way back in 1987 for the play The Runner Stumbles. It was a short tune sung by an innocent novice. He then rearranged the song with his own lyrics for the Mountain Girl to sing in Creature. This instrumental version features Doug Schneider on tenor sax. Scheider captures all the chaste purity, the longing and naivety of the earlier versions, with a depth neither of the others achieved.

NOTE: The Radio Edit version edit outs Tobin's organ introduction.

What Survives
Featuring: Woody Mankowski, soprano saxes/vocals; Dane Richeson, drums; Tobin Mueller, B3 organ/electric piano; Chris Mueller, acoustic piano; Jeff Cox, acoustic bass

. . .
Radio Edit version

"What Survives" is the finalé to the Broadway version of Creature. This is a new arrangement of that song, written especially for Woody Mankowski (lyrics are embedded in the mp3). It combines in medley form Victor Frankenstein's anthem "Over the World" and the full-cast song "What Survives". Woody Mankowski doubles as singer and soprano saxophonist. With Jeff Cox's relentless acoustic bass, Tobin Mueller's keys (two electric pianos and B3 organ), Chris Mueller's acoustic piano (especially his solo in the Long Play version), and Mankowski's driving soprano sax floating over it all... this track can only be labeled "breathtaking". (The Radio Edit cuts out much of the interconnecting improvisational section. But radios rarely play a 9-plus minute track.)

NOTE: Two alternative versions of this tune appear on Mueller's 2019 release WONDER under the titles "I Won’t Leave You (medley)" and "I Won’t Leave you (instrumental)".

"Impassioned performances run throughout the 9 1/2 minute piece, making this a real stand-out!" - Kathy Parson

Jump to:  Volume 1  •  Radio Edits  •  The Ensemble  •  Full Review

Volume Two

13. One Body of Man - A Duet [6:41]
14. Finding No Path [8:37]
15. River Runs Through Me [6:59]
16. Do I Know Him? [1:39]
17. Windowshade [8:28]
18. Let Me Pose for You [3:40]
19. The River Never Stops (composer’s demo) [7:32]
20. Dreams (reprise) featuring Emily Rohm [2:30]
21. Frankenspell Superstar [6:14]
22. Gonna School Ya [3:40]
23. Bring the Fire / Over the World (Broadway version) [8:05]
24. I Am (One Voice) [5:30]
25. This Is It (composer’s demo) [5:07]
26. Dénouement [4:04]

One Body of Man - A Duet
Duet: Mueller & Schneider, pianos

. . .
Radio Edit version

Serving as an Overture to Volume Two, Doug Schneider joins Mueller at the piano to create this engaging improvised duet. Based on a R&B song of the same title that opens Act Two of Creature, the stage version features the spirits of body parts, celebrating their resurrection in a single Body of Man.

Mueller and Schneider adroitly move from R&B to Jazz to Tin Pan Alley and back to R&B, variations alive with exuberance and sass.

"There is enough joy and power in this duet sure to satisfy both the blues and jazz lover. This is the essence of what makes the Blues so universal." - Grind Louder

Finding No Path
Quartet: Dane Richeson, drums/percussion; Jeff Cox, acoustic bass; Tobin Mueller, B3 organ/synths; Chris Mueller, acoustic piano

. . .
Radio Edit version

This is perhaps the most dramatic arrangement on the album. The amount of power generated by this quartet is astounding. The highlight is Dane Richeson's spirituous drum solo 2/3s in, forming the climax of the arrangement. But everything, from the opening bass solo (not included in the Radio Edit) to the hip groove, to the interplay between Uncle and Nephew on keys, all are simply superb.

NOTE: The Radio Edit edits out Jeff Cox's intro bass solo. For those of you who don't want to miss it, please check out the Long Play version. It also edits out much of Chris Mueller's piano solo in the middle section.

River Runs Through Me
Trio: Woody Mankowski, soprano sax; Chris Mueller, acoustic piano; Tobin Mueller, B3 organ

. . .
Radio Edit version

This is perhaps Chris Mueller's finest moment on the album. His piano solo in the middle of this expansively peaceful, prayerful tune is sublime. Tobin's organ never gets in the way, adds color around the edges and emotional emphasis. Mankowski's soprano sax expressiveness completes this anthem-like ballad.

Do I Know Him?
Duet: Emily Rohm, vocals; Tobin Mueller, keys/synths

Departing from the Jazz Ensemble framework, this track is directly from the stage show Creature. Emily Rohm played the part of the Mountain Girl on Broadway. Mueller plays all instruments for the recorded accompaniment: synths, percussion, etc. The song marks the first time the Mountain Girl sees Victor Frankenstein in the graveyard, thinking he might be a kindred spirit. Lyrics are embedded in the mp3.

Duet: Tobin Mueller, all keyboards/percussion; Woody Mankowski, all saxes

. . .
Radio Edit version

Mueller shows his prowess as a mutli-talented keyboardist overlaying B3, vintage synths, electric piano and drum box programming to lift this old-school funk groove into the modern age with wizardly verve. By the time Woody Mankowski enters with this layered saxes, the listener is already totally emersed in funk fantasies. Some of Mankowski's soprano sax lines are filtered to sound like an EWI, giving the track an organic yet synthetic feel, which works well for the Frankenstein theme.

Windowshade was first released on The Rain Bather and then again on The The Muller's Wheel, remastered each time. Now, with this new Radio Edit CD, it has appeared on 3 of Mueller's albums. It's worth hearing again and again.

"Hip, sexy, funk ladened jazz groove... The music is driving, contemporary, a perfect fusion of funk and jazz."
- Hit Addiction

Let Me Pose for You
Duet: Jessica Flood, vocals; Tobin Mueller, all other instruments

The original one-act Frankenspell Superstar was a family show. The subsequent two-act Creature had more adult themes, including sexual ones. The major difference was embodied in the character of Elisabeth, Victor Frankenstein's fiancé. She was a classic Victorian character in the initial script, chaste and refined. For Broadway, she became a modern character full of her own amnition to be both more beautiful and immortal. She saw Victor as a mix between plastic surgeon and savior. This song is the moment Elisabeth seduces Victor to embrace her desires to be included in his experiments.

The accompaniment is performed entirely by Tobin Mueller. Jessica Flood brings the character of Elisabeth to life.

The River Never Stops (composer’s demo)
Duet: Jessica Flood, vocals; Tobin Mueller, backing vocals/instrumentation

This track was recorded in Mueller's home studio as a composer's demo. He sings the part of the Spirit Chorus; Jessica Flood performs the part of The Heart Spirit. The song tells the story of what happens to The Heart Spirit, the betrayal by Frederick Frankenstein that led to her suicide.

The story is based on an old African folk tale. A woman falls in love with a married man, has his child, conspires to help kill the man's wife, follows the man across a river so deep and wild she must let her child go and be carried by the waters in order to continue across... and then once she and her lover make it safely to the other side, the man rejects her, saying he cannot trust anyone who would let her own child drown.

Dreams (reprise) featuring Emily Rohm
Duet: Emily Rohm, vocals; Tobin Mueller, all instruments

This dreamy, haunting rendition highlights the introspective aspects of one of the sweetest lullabies ever written. Mueller uses a mixture of keyboards, plus Celtic and orchestral harp, to present the tune's hopeful yet chimerical context. The main body of the piece is modal and shifting, searching and reflective. This is the Broadway version, yet forms a reprise in the context of this album.

For lyrics (embedded in mp3), see: Dreams (When You Awake) - lyrics

Frankenspell Superstar
The CenterStage Players, featuring vocalists Jessica Flood, Emily Rohm, Chris Vanderlynden; Tobin Mueller plays all instruments

Mueller's groundbreaking one-act prog rock opera "Frankenspell Superstar" debuted in 1992. He would later expand the show into two acts for a family-friendly Off Broadway run in 1995 at The Thirteenth Street Theatre. Then, in 1995-96, he rewrote the script with more adult content, adding edgier storylines, character arcs, R&B and Jazz, renaming it "Creature". This track is from the original CenterStage Players one-act, the scene that introduces Dr. Victor Frankenstein as he creates and then celebrates his Creature. Features Jessica Flood, Kathryn Purdy, Lisa Jarret, Lindsey Teetaert, Holly Thomas and Emily Rohm as the Gypsies; Chris Vanderlinden as Victor Frankenstein.

At the 3:30 mark, the arrangement turns old-school Jazz. It provides an interesting context for the Jazz Ensemble arrangements recorded at a later date. The lyrics are embedded in the mp3.

Gonna School Ya
(Radio Edit) [3:40]
The CenterStage Players, featuring: Emily Rohm, lead vocalist; Matt Knudsen as The Creature; The CenterStage Players play the Chorus (Lab Animals and Gypsies); Tobin Mueller plays all instruments

After guiding The Creature to safety in the wilds, the Mountain Girl begins to teach him about life. Featuring Emily Rohm as the Mountain Girl and Matt Knudsen as the Creature. The CenterStage players round out the chorus of gypsies and lab animals who have followed the Creature. Lyrics.

Bring the Fire / Over the World (Broadway version)
The CenterStage Players, featuring vocalists Jessica Flood, Tim Cunningham; Tobin Mueller plays all instruments

To contrast how different Creature is from its anticedent Frankenspell Superstar, here is the version of the moment The Creature is created in Creature. Beginning with underscoring, you can hear the spirits awakening to the idea of being summoned again into living flesh. Then you hear how differently Elisabeth and Victor react to the awakening Creature. Victor Frankenstein is played by Tim Cunningham; his fiancé Elisabeth is played by Jessica Flood. Lyrics are embedded in the mp3.

I Am (One Voice) [composer's demo]
Tobin Mueller: vocals, all instruments

This is the composer's demo of The Creature's touching soliloquy after he has finally escaped... yet finds himself alone and afraid. Recall that each body part has a spirit attached to it. They have at times been deafening and usually work at cross-purposes, confusing and tormenting The Creature. The song presents the moment The Creature discovers his own voice from within this cacophony.

The discerning listener will hear themes used in several of the jazz arrangements above. Mueller plays all instruments.

This Is It (composer’s demo)
Tobin Mueller: vocals, all instruments

The original title was "One Step Forward, Two Steps Back", sung by the lab animals that were freed when The Creature escaped the castle. It debuted in 1995 with the full-length version of Frankenspell Superstar. It was dropped from the Broadway version of Creature, being too "juvenile" for the new producers. It has never been released, but the composer thought it would be interesting to release it as an example of how he would record a demo, singing and playing all parts, to intriduce his cast to the music. There is a playful jazz quality to the music, with an Island flair. It is also an excellent example of how Mueller takes a scene and, through shifts in musical styles, moves it through differing emotions and dramatic content.

Tobin in violet light

I love the intellectual glider plane ride through Mueller's thoughts as he plays. I can hear his soul, I swear!"

Gerry Walsh, music critic

Tobin Mueller, piano

Written and performed by Mueller in 2020, the melody reminds us of both "What Survives" and "Dreams", with a gentle melding of Impressionism and Modal New Age Jazz. The subtle arrangement highlights Mueller's orchastral mind, presenting a two-voice melody and countermelody, with additional passing lines woven in and out throughout. The title reflects the sense of addendum embodied in the piece, written 25 years after Creature, marking this release of What Survives.

Easily recommended and filled with surprises! Nothing about the music on the Radio Edits CD feels edited or incomplete. The music is extroverted and lively: joyful and eccentric funk; dramatic, mysterious, memorable jazz..."

Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian

Jump to:  Volume 1  •  Volume 2  •  Ensemble  •  Reviews

Radio Edits (CD)
What Survives - Radio Edits

01. Cliff’s Edge (radio edit) [6:47]
02. Secret of Life [4:34]*
03. A Promise (radio edit) [5:57]
04. Frankenfanny, feat. Ron Carter (radio edit) [3:22]
05. Lightning Strikes (radio edit) [2:03]
06. Must Go Back (radio edit) [5:36]
07. Dreams [5:06]*
08. I Wanna Fly [2:23]*
09. Windowshade (radio edit) [6:20]**
10. Caught in the Current [4:44]*
11. Finding No Path (radio edit) [6:21]
12. What Survives (radio edit) [6:34]
13. Waltzing Night Into Day (radio edit) [6:23]
14. River Runs Through Me (radio edit) [5:46]
15. The Shape Of My Life [5:50]*

BONUS TRACKS: (not included on physical CD)
16. One Body of Man (radio edit) [5:37]
17. Dénouement [4:04]*
18. Dreams (reprise) [2:30]*

* Tracks not listed as "(radio edit)" are the full unedited versions used in the 2-Volume digital release "What Survives" (see above)
**"Windowshade (Radio Edit)" was featured on All About Jazz as the Track Of The Day (Nov 13, 2020)
What Survives - Radio Edits CD
Full Reviews:

What Survives (Radio Edits): Easily Recommended & Filled with Surprises!
To call Tobin Mueller multi-talented would be an understatement. In his career he is not only a keyboardist and a composer (performing jazz, rock and classical in addition to being a pioneer in New Age music) but a significant environmentalist, founder of the online arts community ArtsForge, composer of film scores, ballets and symphonies, a NYC Dramatist Guild playwright and lyricist, and has led over 30 recordings during the past 15 years.

One of his many theater productions was the Broadway musical Creature, an updating of the Frankenstein saga. Originally a progressive rock opera, on What Survives, Mueller has taken the score and turned it into modern jazz. Released as a 24-track double album, the CD version has 15 of the selections edited for radio airplay; it is also available digitally with three additional tracks.

Nothing about the music on this CD feels edited or incomplete, and most of the songs easily stand apart from the play. There are four vocal pieces for Woody Mankowski and those are fine but it is the instrumentals (with Mankowski well featured on soprano) that are particularly exciting.

The extroverted and lively music is performed by Tobin Mueller on organ and keyboards, his nephew pianist Chris Mueller, Mankowski on soprano, tenors Doug Schneider and Tom Washatka, trumpeter Bob Levy, flugelhornist Ken Schaphorst, bassist Jeff Cox and Blue Note Records drummer Dane Richeson with several guests, most notably clarinetist Bill Barner and bassist Ron Carter (who plays some catchy walking bass patterns on “Frankenfanny”).

The most memorable pieces are the funky “Cliff’s Edge” (which becomes quite passionate), a dramatic “Secret Of Life,” the mysterious pattern and interaction of organ and piano on “Must Go Back,” a rollicking “I Wanna Fly,” and the joyful and eccentric funk of “Windowshade” during which one can certainly imagine a monster walking around. The ensembles (with the leader’s assertive organ and keyboards) are a consistent joy and the solos (particularly those by Mankowski) are quite stirring.

What Survives is easily recommended and filled with surprises.

- Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian

What Survives Will Rock Your World...
What Survives is a collection of twenty-six original jazz recordings inspired by Tobin Mueller’s Broadway show, Creature, which he wrote in 1995. The two-volume work has a running time of almost 2 1/2 hours and presents the listener with a veritable smorgasbord of instrumentals, vocals, solos, duets, larger ensemble pieces and more. If anyone has any doubts about Tobin Mueller’s extraordinary versatility as both a composer and a performer, What Survives should take care of it. From smooth, sweet ballads to funky bravado to straight-ahead jazz, there is literally something for everyone here. Vibrant and full of life to heartbreakingly sad, What Survives will rock your world - in a good way! It is available to stream and/or download, and there is extensive information about the musical and the music on Mueller’s website.

Creature is based on a one-act musical called Frankenspell Superstar and was originally a progressive rock opera. Later versions incorporated jazz, fusion and R&B elements. This recording is the first time that all of the vocal jazz tracks have been included with the full ensemble recordings; Volume 2 also includes some composer demos. Earlier versions of ten of the tracks also appeared on Mueller’s 2008 release, Rain Bather, but all of the music was remastered for this album. In addition to composing the music, Tobin Mueller appears on B3 organ, electric pianos, synths, acoustic piano and vocals. Guest artists include Mueller’s frequent collaborator, Woody Mankowski (soprano sax and soulful vocals), his nephew Chris Mueller (acoustic piano), Doug Schneider and Tom Washatka (tenor sax), Dane Richeson (drums and percussion), Ron Carter (bass) and Emily Rohm (vocals).

With so many tracks, I can’t mention all of them, but I can tell you about a few favorites. “Cliff’s Edge” starts things off with the full ensemble. An upbeat jazz instrumental, there is lots of sax, organ and percussion for a contemporary Big Band sound. “Secret of Life” is also a jazz instrumental, but much “cooler” and arranged for a quintet this time out. “A Promise” is a poignant and heartfelt soliloquy sung by Woody Mankowski as the young Dr. Frankenstein at his mother’s grave. “Dreams” is Mueller’s most-recorded tune and has appeared on a dozen albums with different artists singing the song in a variety of styles. Mankowski brings deep emotion to this tender lullaby. “Waltzing Night Into Day” is a slow, beautiful jazz waltz (instrumental) performed by the quintet (organ, sax, piano, acoustic bass and drums). “What Survives” is a new version of the finale to the Broadway version of Creature, written especially for Woody Mankowski (vocals and sax). Impassioned performances run throughout the 9 1/2 minute piece, making this one a real stand-out.

Volume 2 begins with the funky/bluesy improvised piano duet, “One Body of Man,” performed by Mueller and Doug Schneider. The stage version features the spirits of body parts celebrating their resurrection, which must be quite a sight! The dramatic, high-energy “Finding No Path” incorporates a variety of jazz styles to create a driving quartet for drums/percussion, acoustic bass, B3 organ and synths, and piano. This is the third album “Windowshade” has been on (remastered for each), and it is still one of my favorites of Tobin’s pieces. Technically a duet (two performers), it goes above and beyond with Mueller playing all keyboards and percussion and Mankowski playing a variety of saxes (no vocals on this one). Funky and fun, I dare you to keep your feet from tapping! “Frankenspell Superstar,” from the original one-act prog-rock opera, is performed by The CenterStage Players - a fascinating look at how the music started! The closing track, “Denouement,” is a new piano solo composed by Mueller in 2020, twenty-five years after Creature came alive, and is a great way to end this spectacular album!

There is also a “Radio Edits” version of What Survives available on CD as well as downloads and streaming. I’ll be reviewing that album very soon. This full version of the album is available from TobinMueller.com, Amazon, Spotify, HearNow, and GooglePlay. There are several videos from the album on YouTube as well. What Survives is a listening experience you won’t soon forget!"

- Kathy Parsons, MainlyPiano.com

Snatches energy out of the universe
and toss it around like a meteor shower...
If you are feeling blue, this first cut on Tobin Mueller’s production should lift you up and bring happiness to your heart.  Titled “Cliff’s Edge”, this Mueller composition is fusion jazz at its best.  Mueller plays his B3 organ on this tune and it reminds me of the days when Herbie Hancock’s “Headhunter” album was blowing our minds.  This song wreaks of that kind of inspiration and energy.  The staccato punches and funk groove inspire both Doug Schneider on tenor saxophone and Woody Mankowski on soprano sax to strut their stuff above the plush rhythm section and horn harmonies.  What a great way to open this album.  Now they have my full attention.

In the middle of a pandemic, with over 200,000 Americans dead... with people marching in the street... and the Internet and news waves full of contradictory information and everyone seeming at odds with each other over one thing or another, I often feel like I’m on the “Cliff’s Edge”.  This music hit the mark on the head for me.

Mueller’s music is based on a Broadway show, Creature, written by Tobin Mueller in 1995, itself based on the Frankenstein story.  Consequently, the compositions and lyrics are meant to paint a portrait of a young Victor Frankenstein as he heroically conquers death, but then gets sidetracked by other ambitions.  The song, “A Promise” is rich with blues.  It offers a lyric sung by Woody Mankowski.  Ron Carter’s genius walking bass opens Track 4.  Enter Mueller on organ and he also plays drums on this cut.  Originally, this was a progressive rock opera.  It was later when Mueller began to record his music incorporating jazz, fusion, R&B, blues and contemporary music into the mix.  You will enjoy fifteen original compositions, with three bonus tracks available on their digital release.  The ballads are lovely and emotional, but the other compositions snatch energy out of the universe and toss it around like a meteor shower.

- Dee Dee McNeil, Musical Memoirs

Jump to:  Volume 1  •  Volume 2  •  The Ensemble