Artist/ Band: Tobin Mueller
Title: Rain Bather
Label: ArtsForge
Year of Release: 2009
Offical Artist/ Band Link

The Review:

Keyboardist Tobin Mueller is back with his most eclectic instrumental release ever, a thirteen-stage carousel ride that straddles the boundaries lines of big band, folk, funk, fusion and even good ol' untampered-with jazz. The sound is so diverse, the production so impeccable that the first six tracks alone sound like four different acts. The first two pump it up in a big band format: soprano and tenor saxophones, trumpet and flugelhorn, electric guitar and acoustic bass all cut it up from huge sonic stabs to more delicates passages. Even Mueller's brother Chris busts a move-and-thirty on his acoustic grand. "Must Go Back" pares the roster down to the core quartet, and said brother blazes away Kikoski-style on the grand like a dust devil. Not content with mere sidemanship, Jeff Cox interjects a solo on his upright bass. With the everpresent hissing of Mueller's B3 organ beneath it all, the final cut has a bit in common with Barbara Dennerlein's music. "Caught In The Current" is a wonderfully pastoral serving of Windham Hill-styled contempo in the realm of Montreaux really, even violinist Martyn Kember-Smith makes sure it's no coincidence.

From left-of-center, Tobin Mueller surprises suddenly with an eight-minute foray into electric funk called "Windowshade." The smokey organ and funkalicious synthbass easily recall the golden shades of Herbie Hancock's Thrust from '76. "Seven Buttons On A Nehru Jacket" plays out a tempter-and-temptee mini-drama with manic synth filter sweepery and the unsuspecting lilt of Sal Giorgianni's spritely flute. McBoy's pristine electric guitar work is a nice embellishment. Guest tenor saxophonist Doug Schneider steps in and Tobin lets Chris shine on the sultry "Waltzing Night Into Day." The B3 proves an excellent counterpoint for that sort of velvety piano-centric jazz. Then things get electric and hoppin' again on, er, "Acid Hopping." Electronic drums on this groover, not acoustic, though whether a program or drummer Dane Richeson is the man behind the grooves is uncertain. Either way, the rhythms are funky and slick and recall more Headhunters or even Material-type action.

If Tobin Mueller records a sequel to Rain Bather that is just as boppin' and groovin' and diverse, this reviewer will be the first in line to get his ticket punched. Much to be loved by the jazz-funk aficionado is to be found on here. Much, indeed!

Reviewed by Elias Granillo Jr. on January 24th, 2010

Tracks:

01. I Wanna Fly
02. Cliff's Edge
03. Must Go Back
04. Lightning Strikes
05. Caught In The Current
06. Windowshade
07. Secret Of Life
08. Seven Buttons On A Nehru Jacket
09. Waltzing Night Into Day
10. Acid Hopping
11. Finding No Path
12. River Runs Through Me
13. Last Song On Vaudeville

Reviewed Discography

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