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The Masterworks Trilogy
exploring relationships between Classical & Jazz piano
The Masterworks Trilogy
Of Two MindsFlowImpressions of Water & Light

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[The following is a reprint from the subscription-based Fanfare Magazine. The interview was conducted in celebration of Tobin's album "Of Two Minds" making the 2016 Not To Be Missed Critics' Choice List. Click here for direct link.]

The Masterworks Trilogy is Tobin Mueller's exploration between musical eras. He has given contemporary expression to the Romantic Era in Of Two Minds: The Music of Frédéric Chopin and Tobin Mueller (2016), re-imagined Bach and the Baroque period in Flow: The Music of J.S. Bach and Tobin Mueller (2015), and fused Jazz with Impressionism in Impressions of Water and Light (2014). Through adaptation, variation and original works, he combines Jazz, Blues, and New Age with nearly every style of Classical music, creating a rich fabric that transcends time and genre. Below is the May 2016 interview by Fanfare Magazine's writer Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold, for Fanfare Magazine's Conversations with Composers series. It will be published in October 2016. Because Fanfare is a subscription-based website, they have granted the composer the ability to duplicate the interview here:


Conversations with Composers: Tobin Mueller
by Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold

When I last spoke with composer and pianist Tobin Mueller for Fanfare, it was on the occasion of the release of his fascinating album, Impressions of Water and Light, the first in a trilogy of projects in which Mueller immersed himself in the music of great forebears and let it take him on a journey through new arrangements and original compositions. The second such endeavor explored the music of J.S. Bach, (Flow: The Music of J.S. Bach and Tobin Mueller) and Mueller has just released his third - Of Two Minds: The Music of Frederic Chopin and Tobin Mueller. This three-year labor of love has proved to be a revelatory journey for the composer as well as for his listening public. Fanfare had the pleasure of speaking with Mueller about this new musical adventure.

CMV-S: How have these three projects been different and have they afforded you a linear journey?

Selections from Impressions of
Water & Light

TM: Yes, it has been a linear path. I began six years ago when my health was dramatically declining and my doctor gave me eight-to-twelve years to live. [Mueller suffers from A1AD exacerbated by his volunteer efforts among the ruins of the World Trade Center in the wake of 9/11.] I decided to make a recording that could be given away at my funeral. [Song of Myself (2012).] One of my favorite pastimes has been to play piano for my wife after dinner – usually covers of songs by Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Elton John, and Broadway tunes. I wanted to preserve them in case I weren’t able to sing or play any more. I had never recorded covers of other people’s music before, but as it turned out, these recordings got a great deal of airplay on Spotify and other internet music venues. After that I recorded a Christmas album [Midwinter Born (2013)], and then I decided I wanted to do something meatier, so I embarked on Impressions of Water and Light, which explored the Impressionists. I realized how fulfilling it is to go back to my classical training after a career of playing solely my own music, whether it be Broadway songs, original jazz or progressive rock. After those discs, I tackled Bach because he was something of a lost composer to me in my youth. I had always considered him the greatest composer in history; I loved listening to him, but playing his music did not come second nature to me. I had to practice hard to play his music, and as I did, I came to understand not only his technical brilliance, but also how many rules he broke (or "expanded"). I ended up feeling a deep intellectual kinship for Bach. With this Chopin recording, I wanted to discover a similar kinship. I related to how modern Chopin's music really is. I could start playing one of his compositions and then just segue into improvising. The kinship I found was on a more emotional level than Bach's, but just as satisfying.

CMV-S: You have called these projects ‘conversations with the composers.’

TM: Yes, they have all been conversations, resulting in not just inspiration, but growth. I settled on calling the project “The Masterworks Trilogy.” I did that partly to signal to myself that it’s time to go back to playing original material. Three albums are enough “homages” for a while (actually, it’s six if you include the Christmas album and my two cover albums). I have tons of ideas pent up inside me. But my “Masterworks” journey has been wonderful, and the musical knowledge I’ve gleaned made it all well worth it.

CMV-S: When you finished this most recent album, what did you want to say to Chopin?

Selections from
Flow, Disc 1

Chopin provided me with a joy and lightness beyond what I experienced in the previous two explorations. Both the Impressionists and Bach were musical groundbreakers. The Impressionists were masters at creating music that represented the natural world, especially the interplay between water and light, like the artists of the era. They were aural-painters. You feel immersed in immediate experience when playing Debussy or Ravel. Instead, Chopin immerses you in emotions, less tactile, driven more by reflective longing. With Chopin I could sit and play in an effortless, attainable, contemplative way. Chopin’s music articulated the Zeitgeist of the Romantic period, yet his pieces, especially the Nocturnes, can sound like contemporary songs. His music doesn’t have the overt intellectual quality that Bach’s does, an intellectual aspect can separate you from certain aspects of cathartic human passion. I experienced a great deal of loss and spiritual searching in Bach’s music, to be sure, and even joy, but there was a great deal of weight attached to each piece, for me, at least. Even when Chopin’s music expresses loss or longing, there is a seductive beauty or a revolutionary energy that underpins it all, a sensual expressiveness rather than a deep introspection. So, I guess I would say to Chopin, “Thank you, I needed that. You made the joy of music effortless again.”

CMV-S: You say in your notes that as you play the works of Chopin and improvise and arrange them, you are able to enter into the composer’s head. Can you describe how that process happens for you?

Selected tracks from
Of Two Minds, Disc 1

TM: I always begin by playing the piece as it is written, then replay the parts I like again and again. As I am listening to the other composer’s music, I am rewriting it in my head. With Chopin, I tried to capture a sense of improvisation that corresponds to the Romantic sensibility. I imagined that if he had written additional variations on the piece, what they would sound like? I ended by writing less jazz than I thought I would and staying closer to what I saw as his intentions. I imagined him sitting on the bench beside me, turning pages, nodding. I wanted him to approve of all of my changes. I wanted the DNA of his music to evolve into mine, the experience of his life to inform my own.

CMV-S: You describe Chopin’s composition process as being a kind of ‘heroic struggle.’ Talk about his ease of inspiration and then his difficulty to get that down on the page.

TM: I quote from George Sand’s memoirs in my liner notes, where she describes Chopin improvising at the piano a complete and perfect piece, only to spend the next weeks trying to improve it, working through draft after draft of additions, only to return to his original inspiration in the final draft, having wasted all that time and consternation. I can identify with Chopin’s experience. All music starts as inspiration and improvisation. At some point, when you hit upon something you really like, you ask yourself ‘will I remember what I just did?’ You begin to write it down. But then you often second guess the original inspiration, smooth it out, add variations and what you hope are improvements. It’s a struggle to capture that initial sense of freedom and discovery. Some changes result in stilted, stiff passages and overwhelming discouragement. When I begin to write down my own compositions, I start with something that looks like an esoteric cross between a jazz chart and Latin code, a mashup of shorthand chord changes I began using as a teenager before I really knew what I was doing. But it’s what I fall back on when I'm in the hurried throes of capturing a moment. Then I begin writing the first verse melody line and accompanying notes on very large score paper in a very small hand, something I began doing back when I had better eyesight than I do now, sometimes using three staves (so I can separate out the bass line). I want to see as much of the piece on a single page as possible. When I come to subsequent variations, I usually jot down just chords, often with slashes representing rhythmic alterations. Then I play the piece measure by measure, trying to see how one measure leads to the next, erasing and adding as I play the piece over and over. It is a laborious process for me. One song could take me a week. Pink eraser bits litter my piano keys, fall onto the strings. But I never want to write something that I’ve done before, which can happen when I’m first improvising, so I pay special attention to unique phrasing. I need to make sure every key change and chord substitution has a 'first time' character to it. Still, when I go to record a piece, I can’t tell you how often I decide to play something else at a particular moment. (But whatever that 'something' turns out to be, it would never have happened without all the work and repetition done in preparation.) Actually, if Chopin were actually sitting beside him, I’d probably drive him crazy.

Suite: Flow

CMV-S: Is there a piece from Disc Two of your latest work that best illustrates this process?

TM: In the piece, “Phases of the Moon,” I attempted some difficult key changes – major thirds down and augmented fourths up, abrasive intervals. I wanted to build emotional tension into those key changes, have them seem smooth and natural, not shocking or abrupt. When I originally wrote them, the ramp up into one key change was about twelve measures. I played those measures over and over again, over the course of three days. At the end of each session, I was satisfied, only to play them again later on and feel as if it still wasn’t as effortless as I wanted. I ended up using six measures that came to me right before recording them. The key change sounds as natural as a 1-4-5 progression, but has an unusual, added tension. I don’t want the listener to be aware of my technique or my math, only my emotion.

CMV-S: As with your previous two albums, you pair the music with art and literature in the notes and in the visuals. Why did you choose the images and quotes you did for this Chopin recording?

TM: I am a photographer as well and experienced in Photoshop, so for the cover, I picked my favorite image of Chopin as a young man and held it up to my head and had my wife take a photo of the two of us. Then I used that, overlaid it with three different filters, and created an image that looked like a woodcut. For the notes I read a great deal of George Sand’s work, especially her Memoires. Chopin’s songs are above all romantic, and she was the one woman he loved deeply. She was also an unlikely attraction for him; she was so free in her sensibility, even seen as ‘vulgar’ by his contemporaries, - which is saying a lot, considering the Bad Boys that were in his circle of friends. But she was honest with him about his music, which she loved with a nurturing passion, and she had patience and took care of him when he was ill. He owed a great deal to what she was able to give him in those very intense eight years together.

CMV-S: The second disc contains three original sonatas. The first, Sonata of Quantum Entanglements, is informed by a fascination with both music and science. How did this interest come about for you?

Sonata of Quantum Entanglements

TM: My father was a chemist and looked at the world in an exceedingly scientific way. His capacity for detail was mind-blowing, and I grew up with that kind of existential, rules-based worldview. When I entered college, I had already composed a symphony and some pieces for our school band. I thought I knew what I was doing. It was 1974 when composers like John Cage and Elliott Carter were prominent, and music was trending beyond rule breaking into lawlessness. As an example, my composition professor wrote a piece while I was her student entitled Sans C in which she never once played middle C in the entire work, as if that was a sufficient raison d’etre. I wasn’t required to transcribe Bach or study Mozart, although I did pour over Stravinsky scores on my own and learned as much as I could about Aaron Copland’s ballets. But the level of abstraction in the classical music world of the 1970s had little resonance for me, and with typical youthful arrogance, I decided I couldn’t learn anything useful from my music teachers. So I studied German and read Einstein instead, and I changed my major to physics. I never intended to be a physicist, but it was something I knew I needed professors to teach me. Differential equations are like jazz; for every variable change the answer keeps shifting, creating a single arc of related solutions. Quantum mechanics, with its reliance on relative points of reference and probability, provides a view of the world where astonishment and truth are interrelated. What seems like chaos has order behind it. Jazz and physics are like flip sides of a single coin.

CMV-S: The theme of non- linear time runs through these compositions as well? The first movement of the Sonata of Quantum Entanglements is called Time as Emergent Phenomenon. What do you mean?

TM: Our experience of Time is an emergent phenomenon, a side effect of quantum entanglement. I was trying to create an organic sound emerging naturally out of chaos, like an electron emerging as a discrete particle from a cloud of energy. As I played the rhythmic chords in the first movement, I cared only for each discrete eighth, not an organizing meter. Yet a meter arises naturally. Over the top, sixteenth notes fly around with abandon, yet remain entangled, connected, complementary. I tried to represent with the motion of the music several aspects of physics. Also, for each of these sonatas I listened to and played a Chopin Prelude for inspiration. In the last movement of that first sonata, “Two Minds,” I started with two related Preludes (No. 1 and No. 14), one in a major key and one in a minor. I began by piecing them together, playing alternating phrases, one major, one minor, back and forth, and loved the interconnections between the two. I finally decided to write a piece moving between keys to suggest a balance of light and dark. I start shifting between keys every four measures, but found that too predictable. Time may be a predictable concept, but our experience of it isn’t.

CMV-S: In the second sonata, Sonata Under a Night Sky, you say your work is an homage to the Nocturnes. Explain?

Sonata Under The Night's Sky

TM: The idea for the first movement, “Phases of the Moon,” came to me during a visit from our daughter, Sarah. She hadn’t yet listened closely to Flow, much to my consternation, so I played some tracks for her. What struck her was how the long musical line went through almost every key before repeating, but you don’t notice this while listening because everything has a center. After that she sat down and read my zodiac chart. I was amazed that the reading about the phases of the moon was right on for me. So when I went to write this sonata I combined my love for changing keys with this sense she had given me of the importance of celestial timing. I was trying to capture a cosmic sense in the music. Music can express dark and light at least as well as the visual arts. In painting, you perceive this interplay all at once with the eye, without the passage of time. In music it comes to you in a progression, one passage (or color or shading) evolving into another; everything is either leading into or out of something. You have to wait, anticipate, move at the composer's tempo. Light and dark come in waves, and it takes time to experience the interplay, sometimes multiple listenings. For all the “night” in this sonata, each movement imparts a lightness that comes from challenge, joy, gratitude, solitude and the interdependence of living.

CMV-S: In the third piece, Sonata for Dreamers, which you say was inspired by your cultivation of ‘lucid dreaming’, you arrive at the end of the third movement with music that seems to suggest an unanswered question. Is this ambiguity the only certainty we have?

Sonata for Dreamers

TM: Yes, I think that feeling is valid, but I would add that this sense of ambiguity has a strong aspect of innocence to it. I begin the first movement, “Storytime,” by making a clear statement, as one might to a child, and then I end with something that is perhaps impossible to hold (in the final movement). In between, for the second movement (Stages of Dream and Memory), I use a quote from Chopin’s well known Prelude No. 15 and go on to alter it so that ultimately the end of the movement has nothing to do with the beginning. I wanted to show how one idea can morph so that by the end you can’t tell where it originated – rather like the experience of dreaming. In the last movement, “Starfall,” I tried to create a moment where everything stops – a suspended state of innocence where, like in dreaming, you exist beyond judgment, goals, limitations. For me Chopin is the most innocent composer in my pantheon. I thought this a fitting finale.

CMV-S: You say that Chopin’s music reads like a musical diary. Is this true for Tobin Mueller’s as well, and if so, what do you share and what are you revealing?

New England Suite

TM: We share not only a musical vocation, but also the fact that as artists we are working with the burden of illness. Also, Chopin lost a sister to tuberculosis, and he himself later died of the disease. I lost my nineteen-year-old sister to A1AD, and I was later diagnosed, at fifty-four, with the same illness. It has affected my immune system, nervous system, stamina, strength and, especially, my lungs. I am required to avoid all forms of stress, which alters my schedule as well as my relationship to ambition and goal setting. It has not only impacted my playing (and completely sidelined my singing), but also my compositions and what I am try to convey in my music. I hear in Chopin - and I am trying to impart in my own music - this sense that mortality frames beauty, meaning and an impetus to cherish. Time is an emergent phenomenon; it shades, highlights, and alters our experience. As we move forward, we expand our universe, but somewhere deep within, we remain a child no matter how old we are. And that innocence can be the core around which our expanding universe evolves. We still need to play to help integrate our accumulated wisdom.

CMV-S: So after three such mammoth albums, what next?

TM: I did consider a Beethoven project, but the anger and intensity in his music would make it too physically challenging a prospect. For my next project, I am producing another double album where I quote from my favorite books, verbally, and then play original music inspired by the quote. I call it Afterwords. I didn’t want to do another double album, but I simply have too many ideas and too many beloved authors to whom I want to pay homage. Words have always been important to me. They were central to my career when I was working as a playwright. After I retired from scriptwriting in order to reduce stress, I soon began to miss the written word. This new project is a great way to incorporate words into my music again; plus, there are so many pent-up styles of music and ideas which I haven’t accessed yet and still want to explore. I’m enjoying a project that is firmly based in musical storytelling, something I’ve always loved doing. It’s very energizing and so much fun!

Play button 4 River god at play... (Maurice Ravel)
Play button 9 Pavane (Gabriel Fauré)
Play button 10 Golliwog is Steppin' Out (Claude Debussy)
Play button 12 Risen Cathedral (Claude Debussy)
Play button 13 Sitting with Satie: Conversation & Life (Erik Satie)
Play button 1 Joy
Play button 6 First Starfield (Prelude No. 1)
Play button 8 Leopold's Short Life: A Prelude and Fugue
Play button 9 Sleepers Wake
Play button 15 Encore and Amen (Prelude No. 21 in G Minor)
Play button 1 Tide Pools
Play button 2 Momentary Undertow
Play button 3 Yin and Yang
Play button 4 Salmon Ladder Variations
Play button 5 Bird In Migration
Play button 6 Curved Surfaces
Play button 1 River Ice (Winter)
Play button 2 Ghostly Bells (of Independence)
Play button 3 Lighthouse (Spring)
Play button 4 Train (Summer Tango)
Play button 5 Nor'easter (Early Autumn)
Play button 6 Berkshire Shadows (Late Autumn)
Play button 5 Étude No. 12 in C Minor, Op. 10
Play button 10 Fantaisie-Impromptu No. 4 in C Sharp minor, Op. 66
Play button 8 Polonaise in A-Flat Major, Op. 53
Play button 4 Mazurka No. 4 in A Minor, Op. 17
Play button 9 Prelude No. 20 in C Minor, Op. 28 / Nocturne No. 2 in C-Sharp, Op. Posthumous
Play button 1 Time As Emergent Phenomenon
Play button 2 Unexpected Escape
Play button 3 Two Minds
Play button 1 Phases of the Moon
Play button 2 Momentary Clarity
Play button 3 The Goddess Speaks
Play button 1 Storytime
Play button 2 Stages of Dream and Memory
Play button 3 Starfall: Untold Reflections
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 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. 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 Award.
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."
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 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 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.