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Album Review: Best of Tobin Mueller, Vol. 5 - Chill
Tobin Mueller
Cover image of the album Best of Tobin Mueller, Vol. 5 - Chill by Tobin Mueller
Best of Tobin Mueller, Vol. 5 - Chill
Tobin Mueller
2023 / Tobin Mueller
136 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Best of Tobin Mueller, Vol. 5 - Chill is the fifth and final installment in Tobin Mueller's Best Of series of double albums featuring remastered and re-recorded tracks from his many albums and musicals. The full series includes 114 tracks, and Vol. 5 includes twenty-five tracks from thirteen albums plus one previously unreleased piece. The recordings this collection draws from date back to 2009 up through a re-mastered track from this year's Best Of, Vol. 2 - Jazz Arrangements.

One of the things that sets this series apart from other "Best Of" collections is that each track has been remastered and/or re-recorded to keep the piano sound consistent from one track to the next, sometimes adding and subtracting instruments and voices, and bringing the sound quality up to the current standards. So, these albums really aren't compilations since the tracks aren't the originals taken directly from the albums. The sound quality is smooth and consistent all the way through where a lot of compilations vary from one track to the next. It is important to note that Tobin has created music videos for almost all of the tracks on these albums, and the ones that I have watched have been exceptionally well-done.

If you are interested, Tobin and I did a very in-depth interview recently where he explains much of what he did with this music both artistically and technically. You can find that interview here.

Although Vol. 5 is labeled as Chill, there is a lot of variety in the music. The majority of the tracks are instrumental, but there are several vocals sung by Tobin and/or Woody Mankowski. Along with the vocals, Tobin performs on acoustic and electric pianos, organs, synths, electric bass, and various percussion instruments. A few of the other artists who appear on the album include Mankowski on soprano and tenor saxes, Ron Carter on acoustic bass, and Chris Mueller on acoustic piano. It's a fascinating and very enjoyable listening experience that clearly demonstrates what an accomplished and versatile artist Tobin really is.

There are too many tracks on this album to go through them all, but I'll mention a few favorites. The album begins with "Come In Funky" from the album by the same name. It starts out with a funky bass solo that sets the tone for the piece before sax, organ and electric piano enter to create an upbeat toe-tapper. "First Contact" is a new slow jazz piece that features Tobin on piano, Mikie Martel on horns, Ugo Rossi on drums, Kenny Cash on bass, and Ruben de Ruiter on hand percussion - very chill! Tobin composed this piece as a musical homage to both Close Encounters and Star Trek themes - something he has wanted to do for many years. "River Runs Through Me" first appeared on one of my favorites of Tobin's albums, Rain Bather (2009). This version is somewhat shorter and features Tobin, Woody Mankowski and Chris Mueller. There is some really nice piano, organ and sax work on this one! "Rubber Submarine" is a new performance of one of the pieces from Come In Funky and features Ron Carter and Ruben de Ruiter as well as Tobin on organ. "Blue Summertime" is a combination of "Am I Blue" by Harry Akst and Grant Clarke and George Gershwin's "Summertime." Tobin plays all of the parts on this arrangement on acoustic and electric pianos. "The Cigarette" is a spoken-word poem recited by Gregory Deltufo, backed by Ron Carter on bass and Tobin on organ. "Shelter From the Storm" is a heartfelt arrangement of Bob Dylan's song (with the lyrics slightly altered), sung by Tobin with piano accompaniment. The album closes with Tobin's vocal and piano arrangement of "Danny Boy," a classic folk song recreated and sung with deep emotion.

Best of Tobin Mueller, Vol. 5 - Chill is a very satisfying conclusion to this major project and is sure to please Tobin's longtime fans as well as those who are discovering his music now. The album is available to download and stream on Amazon and Apple Music/iTunes as well as Spotify, Pandora and Apple Play. Be sure to check it out!
July 18, 2023
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