Midwinter Born
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Liner Notes and Song Histories

Midwinter Born Liner Notes and Song Histories
(extensive descriptions and song histories for each track)

Midwinter Born is my latest collection of piano arrangements, reinterpretations of Christmas carols in modern settings. Most are based on traditional German, French and English carols. I've tried to capture the quiet simplicity, expectant playfulness, and over-riding joy of the season.

"Midwinter Born introduces fresh takes on 18 familiar Christmas tunes.
Mueller probes the traditional melodies for hidden harmonies, chromatic
variants, and fanciful improvisations. In each case his departures
from the original have poetic and musical logic, and they deepen and
expand the universe of the melody.

The colors he is able to coax from the keys are rich and evocative,
and the tempos he explores add variety and vigor to the music.
Of particular interest are Hark the Herald Angels Sing, gracefully and elegantly
set in a New Age jazz milieu; Carol of the Bells, where his piano captures both
the sonority and the tinkling of the bells as well as the spiraling flight of the swallows;
and the exquisite simplicity of O Tannenbaum, where the theme ebbs, flows,
and breaks up with the rustle of the wind in the trees.

Mueller plays with a clean, sometimes deliberate articulation, and one is often
aware of the dialogue between his two hands - a feeling that adds an unexpected energy
and tension to the arrangements. The sound is very present and live.

- Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold, Fanfare Magazine, 2014.

Many of these musical choices have to do with my modal New Age roots as a piano player. Coming to age as an artist in the late 1970's, I was part of a group of musicians who were drawn to a certain modal openness, deceptively simple sounding complexity. The influence of hymns was quite strong, as were jazz harmonies and voicings. Applying this style to Christmas carols seemed most appropriate, and came second nature to me. I hope you enjoy this collection.

These are draft tracks (below), before mastering in the studio. The completed master tracks are available on the CD, now on sale at CDBaby, with individual tracks available via iTunes and other digital outlets. If you are not connected to the Internet, please feel free to email me your CD request.

"Tobin Mueller’s Midwinter Born is a top solo piano pick this year.
He has a lot that’s new to say with a generous helping of standards."
- Dr. Christmas (Gerry Grzyb), 2013.

If the above player doesn't work in your browser, listen here:

1. The First Noël
2. Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella
3. I Saw Three Ships (Come Sailing In)
4. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
5. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (take 5)
6. Carol of the Bells
7. O Holy Night: Cantique de Noël
8. Veni, Veni, Immanuel (Come, come, Messiah)
9. Good King Wenceslas Comes A-wassailing (part 1)
10. Good King Wenceslas Comes A-wassailing (part 2)
11. O Little Town of Bethlehem
12. Joy To The World (Mary's perspective)
13. O Tannenbaum (with wind in the branches)
14. Ding Dong Merrily on High (le branle de l'Official)
15. Lo, How A Rose E'er Bloom/In Bleak Midwinter
16. Still, still, still/It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
17. Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht (Silent Night)
18. Bonus Track: Toyland Fantasy

"Tobin Mueller's Midwinter Born is one of the most original solo piano Christmas albums I've ever heard.
Using a broad mix of musical styles - usually more jazz than new age but impossible to classify -
Mueller puts a very personal spin on a collection of eighteen songs of the season that includes
several medleys. From the gorgeous cover artwork to the extended liner notes on Mueller's website,
this project was lovingly created as a personal expression of the joy and meaning of the Christmas holidays."

- Kathy Parson, Mainly Piano

More Solo Piano...
Flow: The Music of J.S. Bach and Tobin Mueller Flow: The Music of Bach & Muelleris 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 and letting Bach's 300 year old manuscripts inspire through new expression. Flow is one part homage, one part internal romance. Modal Jazz, New Age, Neo-Classical and Baroque all combined in seamless synergy. 16-page booklet included with 2-disc CD. Flow has been included in Fanfare Magazine's 2015 Want List, their Editors' Choice "Not To Be Missed" recordings.

Of Two Minds: The Music of Frédéric Chopin and Tobin Mueller Flow: The Music of Bach & Muelleris the final addition to Mueller's "The Masters Trilogy" in which he explores the music of J.S. Bach (Flow), the Impressionists (Impressions of Water & Light), and now Chopin. He 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, lovely. Mueller embraces Romanticism at its core, music that's distinctly personal and deeply poetic. Jazz, Blues, New Age and Romantic, Mueller is able to weave all strands of music into a single fabric. A 16-page booklet is included with the 2-disc CD.

Impressions of Water & Light is Impressions of Water & LightTobin's exploration of Impressionist piano music, including Debussy, Ravel, Fauré and Satie. He uses the written notes as if they are light and his imagination as if it is water... then creates all new intrerpretations, fantasies and compositions based on music of the Impressionists. The result is a Neo-Classical post-Impressionist hybrid, an expression of the inherent intimacy between jazz and Impressionist music, between Tobin and his favorite composers. You will never hear these works the same again. This CD is a work of art in itself and includes beautiful Impressionist paintings to illustrate each piece.

Morning Whispers is Tobin's first solo piano collection, a song cycle of tragic Morning Whispersbeauty. Music of healing and introspection. New Age and Neo-Classical. The use of key changes, unusual time signatures, and other variational devices makes this work involving, not merely background music. Its internal intensity, however, does not detract from its healing essence, its sense of inner joy. This is Mueller's most introspective work. Several of these piano pieces have since been used in film. Cover photo was taken by Mueller on Cape Cod.

13 Masks13 Masks is Tobin's second solo piano collection. This project came out of discussions about the role subconscious plays in creativity. Tobin used his illustration of 13 Masks to inspire songs combining ragtime, jazz and avant-garde classical. He let his subconscious lead the way, creating phrases and variations that pleased something deep inside. An eclectic mix of original of songs.

FLOW on CDBaby - on iTunes
Impressions of Water & Light on CDBaby - on iTunes
Midwinter Born on CDBaby - on iTunes
Morning Whispers on CDBaby - on iTunes
13 Masks on CDBaby - on iTunes
Voice & Piano recordings...
13 MasksHard Place To Find - voice/piano - Following on the success of Song of Myself (see below), Tobin has released a new volume of his favorite songs. For complete lyrics and song notes, see: 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 having to do with journeying, questing, searching. Released June 2nd, 2013.

13 Masks

Song of Myself - voice/piano - Tobin's favorite cover songs, reinterpretted. Intimate, heartfelt, devistatingly honest music. Complete lyrics and song notes are linked from Tobin's Song of Myself project page. Ballads, blues, showtunes, folk rock, jazz - the music of Tobin's roots. These are songs he's song for decades, songs that have evolved and matured with him. New additions to the Great American Songbook.

"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.

A moving and meaningful compilation. Songs from a life well lived. Released July 13th, 2012.

Hard Place To Find on CDBaby
• Song of Myself on iTunes
Song Of Myself on CDBaby

The Muller's Wheel / Jazz...
The Muller's Wheel
has been remastered! This collaborative project combines the talents of pianist Tobin Mueller and saxophonist Woody Mankowski in Jazz Quartet and larger ensemble settings. These original tracks represent their personal journey through jazz influences -- from swing to bop to fusion to funk. The styles of Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Herbie Hancock, The Brecker Brothers, Weather Report and more influence this homage to the jazz greats. Even the blues are given Mueller/Mankowski's uniquely bop-funk treatment. In all, the duo's originality permeate each track, each jazz sub-genre.

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

"The Muller’s Wheel" title is based on the biological concept that mutation and DNA recombination creates cycles of growth and loss. It serves as a metaphor for the ebb and flow of the synthesis and creativity Mueller and Mankowski apply to their musical influences. The tracks are arranged in historical sequence, and the listener appreciates the cross-pollination between each of these genres. Listening from beginning to end creates a cyclical pilgrimage. It's rhythms and inventive flights of fancy invite the listener along for many return trips. Click here to learn more about the recording.

• The Muller's Wheel on iTunes
The Muller's Wheel on CDBaby

Rain Bather is a jazz ensemble 80 minute long play CD. It features superlative solo performances byan all-star band members. Most of the tunes are in the jazz-funk-fusion vein, but many others try to break new ground, defying easy labels. Click here to learn more about the recording.

Tobin Mueller - B3 organ, electric piano, synth; composer
Woody Mankowski - soprano saxophone
Chris Mueller - acoustic piano
Jeff Cox - acoustic bass
Dane Richeson - drums & percussion
Tom Washatka - tenor saxophone
Doug Schnieder - tenor sax
Ken Schaphorst - flugelhorn
Bob Levy - trumpet
Sal Giorgianni - flute
Bill Barner - clarinet, additional sax
McBoy - electric guitars

• Rain Bather on iTunes
Rain Bather on CDBaby

Come In Funky - Jazz-Funk - Old School Funk and and small combo Jazz featuring legendary bassist Ron Carter. This eclectic blend of Jazz and Funk is the second collaboration between keyboardist Tobin Mueller and saxophonist Woody Mankowski. Half of these tunes will transport you back in time to when most everything (music, clothes, language) owed its hipness to the Funk wing of 1970s Jazz. The other half - funky Jazz etudes - resonate with unique playfulness and humor. A delight. For more information, see: Come In Funky Project page. Released May 4 2014, in honor of Ron Carter's 77th birthday.

• Come In Funky on CDBaby
• Come In Funky on iTunes

Audiocracy / Progressive Rock...
See: Audiocracy: Revolution's Son for latest band info.

Ever since Tobin first listened to Yes, he's been enthralled with progressive rock. Using the Internet, he collaborated with players from around the world. He put tracks together piece by piece, a whole different way to record, but it was very rewarding: the music is inventive and driving!

The album was well reviewed in Progessive and other leading prog mags. The CD inculdes a collection of great arwork illustrating each song by Hovakimian Anoushavan. Please check it out.

Tobin Mueller: organs, synths, pianos, drum programming, backing vocals
Twon: vocals, bass, acoustic guitar
Bob Piper: electric guitar, guitar synth
Darren Chapman: electric guitar
Tadashi Togawa: guitars
Rob Thurman: drums

Audiocracy on CDBaby
Audiocracy on iTunes
A Bit Of Light / Alternative Rock...
13 MasksA 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, saxophonists Danny McCaslin and Woody Mankowski, and guitarist John Luper provide fabulous highlights.

The CD comes with a digital booklet in PDF format:
Download the Digital Booklet here!
(click to view in browser, right-click to download to desktop)

For more details, see Tobin Mueller's Recordings...

A Bit Of Light on CDBaby
A Bit Of Light iTunes
September 11 Project...
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.

Also see 9/11 Project page for notes.

CDBaby.com - iTunes

For Purchase...
Tobin on CDBaby Tobin on iTunes

Member: ASCAP, Dramatists Guild (NYC).