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Tobin Mueller | Standard Deviations, Vols. 1 & 2

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Jazz: Jazz Fusion Jazz: Contemporary Jazz Moods: Featuring Piano
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Standard Deviations, Vols. 1 & 2

by Tobin Mueller

The greatest Jazz Standards reimagined: from Ellington to Monk, Gershwin to Brubeck, Hoagy Carmichael to Lennon-McCartney. All-Star band fuses Jazz, Funk, Blues. 2-CD set, 33 songs. Features: Grammy-winning Paul Nelson (guitar), Woody Mankowski (sax)...
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Fusion
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  Song Share Time Download
1. God Bless the Child / What a Wonderful World
6:38 $0.99
2. St. Louis Blues
4:08 $0.99
3. Eleanor Rigby
4:04 $0.99
4. Birdland / Long Distant Runaround
6:34 $0.99
5. Moanin' / Blue Monk
4:57 $0.99
6. After Hours / Monk's Point
4:24 $0.99
7. Cool
4:36 $0.99
8. Take Five
4:44 $0.99
9. Straight, No Chaser
4:02 $0.99
10. Take The "A" Train
5:14 $0.99
11. Autumn Leaves
3:51 $0.99
12. Stardust
5:16 $0.99
13. Am I Blue / Summertime
6:54 $0.99
14. Moon River / Somewhere over the Rainbow
7:00 $0.99
15. Georgia on My Mind
4:59 $0.99
16. Sophisticated Lady
5:11 $0.99
17. Fly Me to the Moon
5:09 $0.99
18. The Way You Look Tonight / The Nearness of You
4:57 $0.99
19. Secret Love
5:39 $0.99
20. My Funny Valentine
5:03 $0.99
21. Rhythm Medley: It Don't Mean a Thing / Fascinating Rhythm / I Got Rhythm
3:51 $0.99
22. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes / People
5:15 $0.99
23. Where Is Love
4:40 $0.99
24. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square
4:36 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"Standard Deviations" takes a fresh look at the greatest Jazz Standards of the 20th century. These unique arrangements combine jazz, funk, blues and post-bop harmonies, letting one melody "deviate" into another, showing how many of these definitive tunes are related. 33 songs are woven into 24 tracks over 2 discs.

The arrangements are hip, modern. The players are superb; their solos both surprise and satisfy. The recording is clean and exhilarating. The song list displays a breadth of influences and excellence that can be played over and over again.

Instrumentalists include: Grammy winning guitarist Paul Nelson (Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Paul Nelson Band); Mueller's long-time collaborator saxophonist Woody Mankowski (The Muller's Wheel, Come In Funky, Rain Bather); bassist Kenny Cash (After the Rush); percussionist Lamar A. Moore (Lettuce, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe); and drummer Mike Nappi (J Geils Band, The Orion Experience). Tobin Mueller is on all keys (pianos, synths, organs) as well as occasional hand percussion, etc.

Volume One (disc 1) features uptempo takes on the most requested ensemble classics of all time: "Take the 'A' Train" (this version, however, is hard-bop fusion), "St. Louis Blues" (funk-blues), "Straight, No Chaser" (conceptual piece) and "Take Five" (a 'simple' drum-piano duet). In addition, Mueller combines the newer standard "Birdland" (by Weather Report) with a progressive rock classic "Long Distant Runaround" (by Yes) to create an unexpected high energy masterpiece. His moody-emotional arrangement of "Eleanor Rigby", combined with Mankowski's soprano sax and Lamar Moore's driving congas, captures the desperate longing behind the Lennon-McCartney lyrics like nothing before. Combining "God Bless the Child" with "What a Wonderful World" brings new meaning to each of these timeless tunes. Blues takes on "After Hours" and "Moanin'" that both morph into famous Monk tunes ("Blue Monk" and "Monk's Point", respectively) feature some of the best playing. An atypical big band version of "Cool" (West Side Story) fills out the first disc, reminding the listener of Mueller's theater roots.

Volume Two is more chill, featuring quieter arrangements of the greatest vocal ballads of the swing era and beyond: "Summertime", "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "Georgia on my Mind," "Fly Me To the Moon", "Stardust", "Autumn Leaves"... more. Although Mueller's acoustic grand is the central instrument, he frames many of these pieces with vintage electric pianos and synths, B3 organ, prepared and altered acoustic pianos, generating a wide variety of textured settings. Each track is more cleverly crafted then the last. Mueller weaves "The Way You Look Tonight" into "The Nearness of You" with loving grace (with the help of drummer Mike Nappi.) Mankowski's sax solo on Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" is the height of elegance. The Rhythm Medley, combining "Fascinating Rhythm", "I Got Rhythm" and "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" not only displays Mueller's talent as a pianist but his oft-cited ability to meld genres into a new sounding whole. The same could be said of his medley combining "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" with "People", although this one is more toward the Chopin side of things. Disc 2 is over an hour long; there is much to mine!

The album is produced by Factory Underground Studio's Kenny Cash. His previous achievements in the worlds of Hip Hop, EDM, Alternative, Rock, Soul and Gospel helped shape the sound and style of this collection. All arrangements are by Tobin Mueller.

In a way, "Standard Deviations" becomes an extension of Mueller's "Masterworks Trilogy" ("Flow", "Of Two Minds", "Impressions of Water & Light") - in which he used his jazz chops to reimagine the likes of Bach, Chopin and Debussy. "Standard Deviations" could be considered its fourth installment.

See www.tobinmueller.com/standard/ for more information, liner notes and Bonus Tracks.



to write a review

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
You’d think that after reviewing eighteen albums by an artist, a reviewer would have a pretty good idea of what to expect when getting new music from that artist. Well, when it comes to new music from Tobin Mueller, that is never the case. Over the past fifteen years or so, Mueller has released such a varied collection of albums that any new releases are always a fascinating surprise. Last year’s "Afterwords" paired quotations from some of Mueller’s favorite authors with original solo piano compositions. Before that was the "Masterworks Trilogy," where Mueller chose works from various Impressionist composers ("Impressions of Water and Light"), JS Bach ("Flow") and Chopin ("Of Two Minds") and gave their music his own unique interpretations. Great stuff, all of it! Calling it a possible extension of the "Masterworks Trilogy," "Standard Deviations" pays homage to thirty-three of the great jazz standards of the 20th century. A two-disc set, the pieces are presented singly and as medleys. Some are solo piano and some are ensemble arrangements that include guitars (Paul Nelson and Pay Wayland), sax (Woody Mankowski) and percussion (Mike Nappi and Lamar Moore) as well as Mueller on acoustic piano, vintage electric pianos, organ, synths and Trilogy bass. Kenny Cash produced and added additional bass. Disc 1 is dedicated to Mueller’s father and contains ten tracks that are mostly up-tempo ensemble pieces (his dad’s favorites!), and Disc 2 is dedicated to his mom and features fourteen somewhat quieter ballads and more solo piano.

Volume 1 begins with an unusual pairing of “God Bless the Child” and “What a Wonderful World.” A duet with sax master Woody Mankowski, Mueller plays pianos, organ, synths, bass and percussion on this one. The melody of “God Bless the Child” weaves in and out of the funk-fusion improvisations, and then Mueller introduces a beautiful solo piano arrangement of “What a Wonderful World” before returning to a “cooler” but more uptempo closing. I was surprised to see “Eleanor Rigby” included in a jazz standards collection, but it fits perfectly in this context. Actually, I’m not sure I would have recognized the Beatles’ classic without the liner notes, but the spirit of the song is certainly there, performed on sax, conga, drums, bass, pianos and synths. “Moanin’/Blue Monk” features some smokin’ hot guitar, piano, and bass work! “After Hours/ Monk’s Point” again pairs Mueller (piano and organ) and Mankowski, this time in a great blues performance and my favorite in Volume 1. Other titles include “St. Louis Blues,” “Take Five” and “Take the ‘A’ Train.”

Volume 2 opens with “Autumn Leaves,” a solo piano arrangement that was influenced by Charlie Parker’s “Ornithology.” “Stardust” begins with a bouncy synth intro that becomes a catchy rhythm throughout the piece. Mueller layers in pianos, bass and percussion and Mankowski works his sax magic. “Am I Blue/ Summertime” is a layered solo piece for pianos and synths. “Summertime,” probably my favorite jazz standard, is often very dark, but this version is more lighthearted as if viewed through the eyes of a child. The medley of “Moon River” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is dreamy and magical and is performed as a slow piano solo with various electronic effects - I really like this one! Mueller’s solo piano “Georgia On My Mind” is unlike any of the versions I’ve heard. Wistful and soulful with an easy-going rhythm, I really like this one, too! “Secret Love” is a bittersweet piano solo that expresses so much without a single word. “Rhythm Medley” is a fun and energetic mix of “”It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” “Fascinating Rhythm,” and “I Got Rhythm.” My favorite on Volume 2 is the solo piano medley of “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” and “People.” Overflowing with feelings of melancholy and longing, this one grabs me every time.

"Standard Deviations" is another musical masterpiece from Tobin Mueller and crew!