Tobin Mueller | Rain Bather

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The Muller's Wheel: Mueller & Mankowski TOBIN MUELLER's Official Website TOBIN MUELLER on CDBaby TOBIN MUELLER on iTunes

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United States - Connecticut

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Jazz: Contemporary Jazz Jazz: Progressive Big Band Moods: Type: Instrumental
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Rain Bather

by Tobin Mueller

Dynamic, inventive jazz by 9-piece ensemble that breathes and drives, careens and stabs through multiple jazz styles. 13 original tracks, 80 minutes, a session that shouldn't be missed.
Genre: Jazz: Contemporary Jazz
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. I Wanna Fly
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2:23 $0.89
2. Cliff's Edge
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7:35 $0.89
3. Must Go Back
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6:47 $0.89
4. Lightning Strikes
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3:53 $0.89
5. Caught in the Current
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4:44 $0.89
6. Windowshade
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8:27 $0.89
7. Secret of Life
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4:49 $0.89
8. Seven Buttons On a Nehru Jacket
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4:45 $0.89
9. Waltzing Night Into Day
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7:45 $0.89
10. Acid Hopping
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6:22 $0.89
11. Finding No Path
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8:36 $0.89
12. River Runs Through Me
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6:59 $0.69
13. Last Song On Vaudeville
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5:42 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Combining all-stars players in a variety of dynamic jazz stylings, RAIN BATHER captures fabulous performances on this extra long play CD. Their breadth of talent finds play within totally hip arrangements of Tobin Mueller's innovative compositions.

RAIN BATHER moves adroitly between contemporary jazz, progressive big band, fusion, acid and funk. Three tracks (1, 2, 4) employ a progressive octet; two tracks use a septet (8, 10). The rest of the tracks build on a core quartet of organ, piano, drums and bass, adding in one or two extras voices (sax, trumpet, flute, clarinet and/or violin), lending a wonderful variety of the colors and tones.

Tobin brings his progressive rock organ (see: AUDIOCRACY) to the jazz scene, becoming the front man of an octotet (ensemble listed below) as well as a multitasking keyboardist in a breakout quartet setting (that also highlights solo woodwinds). Chris Mueller provides elegant acoustic piano accompaniments and solid arranging, with plenty of space for memorable improvisations and solos.

There are so many great moments on this 80-minute extended play CD, but a shout out has to go to Woody Mankowski's astounding soprano sax solo in Cliff's Edge, his multi-sax layering in Windowshade; the retro-acid tripping flute solos of Sal Giorgianni, especially in Seven Buttons On A Nehru Jacket; and the old school clarinet stylings of Bill Barner in Secret of Life and Last Song On Vaudeville. Carl Fisher's trumpet solos in Acid Hopping really groove, with a whole collection of mutes and plungers employed. Martyn Kember-Smith's celtic fiddle provides a perfect change of pace in Caught In The Current.

Although most of the album is hard-driving and up tempo, two mellow ballads include breathtaking sax solos: River Runs Through Me (Woody Mankowski on soprano) and Waltzing Night Into Day (Doug Schneider on tenor). The interplay between piano and organ in Must Go Back and Finding No Path also deserves a special mention. Through it all, Dane Richeson's percussion permeates and exults; his years studying everywhere from Paris to the Sudan come into play.

This ensemble never treads water, never back pedals. Everything is full forward. A truly entertaining and inventive collection of tunes. Every track drives, is unique.

Many of these tunes are jazz renditions of songs from Tobin Mueller’s Broadway show Creature (tracks 1-5, 7, 11-12). Chris Mueller was pianist for the 1990s run, so he knows the music inside out, and it shows. The intensity of storytelling remains active in the arrangements, as well as the singable lyricism of each intertwining melody. These recordings transcend the original songs, however, living and breathing as completely unique jazz performances. As Dr. Frankenstein would say, this music is truly alive.

Although it is the current rage to purchase music as downloads, the packaging is particularly pleasing in this CD. The disc resembles an old 45 record, complete with vinyl and grooves. The fade-to-scratches (mimicking a 78 RPM) aids the illusion. Worth purchasing just to be able to hold in in your hands.

THE ENSEMBLE:

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

This is music with a fresh spin, played by a band that creates conversations. It is unique and hard to pigeon hole. Listeners of the following artists will love it: Brecker Brothers, Ed Palermo Big Band (especially renditions of Frank Zappa's stuff), The Muffins, Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, Chic Corea, Herbie Hancock, John Schofield, and Medeski Martin & Wood.

For more ensemble jazz by Tobin Mueller, please see his enlivening collaboration with saxophonist Woody Mankowski: The Muller's Wheel.


Reviews


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Brad Walseth

Rain Bather - JazzChicago.net's 2009 Jazz Album of the Year
(No other album I heard in 2009 brought me more pleasure than Tobin Mueller's "Rain Bather." A truly kaleidoscopic panorama of pulsing big band horns, wacky organs, fiddles, flutes, clarinets and beats, that inexplicably fell completely below the radar, this truly wonderful album succeeds by accurately capturing the sound of someone smiling.)

One of the freshest and most sheerly entertaining, intriguing and exciting recordings I've come across, TobMueller's Rain Bather is the product of its composer's kaleidoscopic mind. Primarily utilizing jazz arrangements of songs written for Mueller's Broadway play, Creature -- itself based on Frankenstein -- Rain Bather's compositions range from progressive big band to funk, fusion to world music to classical 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.

Mueller grew up in Neenah, WI, and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Marquette University and UW Milwaukee. He has since moved east to Connecticut where he has been engaged in writing musical theater, political essays, ballets, film scores, children's music, founded the online arts community ArtsForge, been honored by the U.N. For his work with kids and the environment, recorded and released several albums in various genres, and oh yes, also managed to record with many other musicians, including Dave Brubeck and Donny McCaslin. Does this begin to give you an idea of the breadth of this renaissance man's talents and vision?

Much of Rain Bather was recorded at Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, and the wonderful group of musicians he has enlisted sound truly inspired to be playing such compelling music. Centered around Mueller's refreshingly original B-3 organ playing, the musicians involved include drummer/percussionist Dane Richeson, who is familiar to Chicagoans and appeared on John Moulder's "Trinity," and also features Mueller's talented nephew Chris Mueller prominently on piano. Bassist Jeff Cox fills out the primary quartet, while the group expands to a big band octet on three tunes, and a septet on two others. In addition to Woody Mankowski (soprano/tenor saxophones), Tom Washatka (tenor sax), Ken Schaphorst (flugelhorn), Bob Levy (trumpet), Sal Giorgianni (flute) and McBoy (electric guitar), others make welcome appearances, including Martin Kember-Smith, who adds some sprightly fiddle on "Caught in the Current," clarinetist/tenor saxophonist Bill Barner, and tenor saxophonist Doug Schneider, whose lovely playing graces the romantic ballad "Waltzing Night Into Day."

Fans of progressive big band (Eddie Palmieri's Zappa covers, Carla Bley also comes to mind at times -- as she utilizes an organ in her quirky big band sound) will love the opener -- "I Wanna Fly," as well as "Cliff's Edge," "Lightning Strikes," and more. Fusion-heads will thrill to "Must Go Back," the funky 'Windowshade," trip-hop enthusiasts will love "Acid Hopping" and the "Last Song on Vaudeville." Meanwhile there are the simply indescribable like "Secret of Life," "Finding No Path" and the melodically engaging "River Runs Through Me." Perhaps the centerpiece of everything is the incredible "Seven Buttons On a Nehru Jacket" which, hard to believe, is able to live up to it's delightfully psychedelic title (groovy flute courtesy of Mr. Giorgianni). I have listened to this recording multiple times and continue to discover new surprises and look forward to hearing more of Mueller's work, even as I continue to explore this impressive album. Highly recommended for the open-minded listeners among us.

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
“Rain Bather” is a fascinating new album from Tobin Mueller, an artist who defies categorization. Under the a broad umbrella of jazz, Tobin’s original music ranges from big band to funk to acid to sensuous ballads. Eight of the thirteen pieces had their origins in Mueller’s Broadway show, “Creature,” which is based on the Frankenstein story. In this new incarnation, the music has taken on a life of its own (so to speak!). The CD features Mueller on B3 organ, electric piano, and synth. His nephew, Chris Mueller, the pianist for the 1990’s run of “Creature,” did much of the arranging and appears on acoustic piano. The musicians on the CD are given plenty of room to solo and improvise, bringing their unique voices to the music. Years in the making, some of the tracks were passed around the internet with players adding their parts; other tracks were recorded in studios. It is not readily apparent which tracks were done in which way - kind of amazing if you think about it! Although downloading music has become part of contemporary life, the packaging of “Rain Bather” makes a strong case for physical CDs. The cover artwork by Alan Perry is a wonderful invitation with its colors, fusion of shapes and forms, and mix of repose and energy. The CD itself is designed to look like a 45 RPM “single,” with vinyl and “grooves” - a wonderful idea fully realized!

“Rain Bather” opens with “I Wanna Fly,” a high-energy big band-style piece with saxes, brass, organ, piano, and percussion. No, kids, you’re not going to be able to doze off to this one! “Cliff’s Edge” has the same instrumentation, but is more of a funky groove - I like this one a lot! “Must Go Back” steps up the tempo and let’s ‘er rip on organ, piano, bass, and percussion. “Windowshade” is another favorite with Tobin performing most of the instruments in layers - upbeat and funky with a playful sense of fun. “Secret of Life” slows it down to a cool jazz mode with a little acid thrown in for good measure - also a favorite. “Waltzing Night Into Day” is a slow, graceful dance that provides a quiet and reflective interlude. “River Runs Through Me” is another lovely tune on the mellow side and has especially nice solos on piano and sax. “Last Song On Vaudeville” is a big band meets progressive jazz fusion. As the piece nears its final moments, Bill Barner’s clarinet trails off to the sound of a 78 phonograph record scratching its way to the end, underscoring the CD design.

“Rain Bather” is yet another demonstration of Tobin Mueller’s multi-faceted artistry. For a vibrant musical experience overflowing with life and attitude, check it out!