Muller's Wheel: Tobin Mueller & Woody Mankowski
The Muller's Wheel is a collaborative project combining the talents of pianist Tobin Mueller and saxophonist Woody Mankowski. These original tracks represent their personal journey through jazz influences -- from swing to bop to fusion to funk. The styles of Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Herbie Hancock, The Brecker Brothers, Weather Report and more influence this homage to the jazz greats. Even the blues are given Mueller/Mankowski's uniquely bop-funk treatment ('Struttin' Up Bourbon'). In all, the duo's originality permeate each track, each jazz sub-genre. This is joyous music. It reminds us of the happiness we relive when returning to our musical roots. Mueller/Mankowski remind us how the personalities of certain eras continue to assert their influence and power. Three tracks are included from Tobin Mueller's award-winning 2009 release, 'Rain Bather,' pieces that further highlight Mankowski's playing: 'Windowshade,' 'Cliff's Edge' and the haunting 'River Runs Through Me.' The second to last track highlights Mankowski's vocals: 'Shape Of My Life,' a song from Tobin Mueller's 1996 musical, Creature. The CD ends where it began, with a vocal variation of Seafood Gumbo (with vocals and lyrics by Angela Hope); and the wheel continues to turn... Tasty electric guitar additions by Fran Dagostino, drumming by Dane Richeson and bass by Jeff Cox complete the album. Tobin's nephew Chris Mueller adds piano on 'Cliff's Edge' and 'River Runs Through Me' (songs from the Rain Bather project on which Tobin plays organ). 'The Muller's Wheel' title is based on the biological concept that mutation and DNA recombination creates cycles of growth and loss. It serves as a metaphor for the ebb and flow of the synthesis and creativity Mueller and Mankowski apply to their musical influences. The tracks are arranged in historical sequence, and the listener appreciates the cross-pollination between each of these genres. Listening from beginning to end creates a cyclical pilgrimage. It's rhythms and inventive flights of fancy invite the listener along for many return trips. For more jazz by Tobin Mueller, please see the album 'Rain Bather' and Tobin's solo piano albums '13 Masks' and 'Morning Whispers.' For more B3 organ and progressive music by Tobin Mueller, please see 'AUDIOCRACY: Revolution's Son.' Tobin Mueller's solo album on which he also sings, 'A Bit Of Light,' is available as well.