Prone to Wander
is a fascinating solo piano collection of hymns that are given a jazz and improvisational treatment. Before listening to the CD, I assumed it would be full of toe-tapping gospel rhythms, but these interpretations are of a more contemporary, smooth-jazz style. A full-time pastor in Washington State, these songs are obviously a big part of Jon Mutchler’s life and work. He has included twelve traditional hymns (with three of them repeated with alternate stylings) and two original songs of worship. Recorded without edits or corrections, the arrangements are fresh and spontaneous.
I especially like “Oh, For the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus”. I’m not familiar with the lyrics to this hymn, but the melody seems to be searching and yet full of hope. Mutchler’s rhythmic touches add to the sense of urgency, making this a standout selection on an excellent album! “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know” is given a surprising twist that made me think of Vince Guaraldi. It’s amazing that this simple children’s Sunday School song could be given such complexity and style! “Amazing Grace” is given almost minimalistic treatment and then expands into a wonderful, easy-going improvisation that meanders in and out of the melody line. It’s difficult to come up with an original interpretation of a piece that is heard so often and that has been interpreted by so many varied artists, but Mutchler has succeeded well! Some of the other hymns that are included are “All Creatures of Our God and King”, “Blessed Assurance”, “Fairest Lord Jesus” (another favorite!), and “Holy, Holy, Holy”. The two original songs are “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” and “Under Your Wing (Flying, Soaring)”. Both are beautiful and inspiring, but “Under Your Wing” is exceptional. All of the arrangements are low-key enough to be an unobtrusive backdrop for a meeting or quiet time, but do yourself a favor and let the music be the focal point. These wonderful arrangements deserve the listener’s full attention, to be savored and enjoyed again and again. Prone to Wander
is available from jonmutchler.com