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No Place Like Home


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A year ago, my friend Woody Mankowski came up with an idea to transform some of our all-time favorite songs by creating fantasies inspired by their melodic content yet removed enough to not be considered "covers." This was the first collaboration, inspired by Harold Arlen's "Over The Rainbow." We call them "fantasies."

"No Place Like Home" was the first arrangement I did after buying my new piano last summer, and the arrangement is greatly influenced by the sound of that piano. It employs some of the types of chords I loved to play as a late-teen, and so it is also a journey home, musically. "Over The Rainbow" was my mother's favorite song.

I would love input regarding the balance between sax and piano. Please be honest. Recording and mixing the soprano saxophone is the most difficult thing I've encountered from an engineering point of view. Not only is it difficult to record, since the timbre of its registers differs widely, the sound comes out of the horn in drastically unique places depending on the note played. This mix strikes a balance (in my ears) between how it sound in speakers and in headphones. (Too often in speakers the sax is too loud and in headphones it is too soft, in comparison to the piano.) Let me know how you feel, and please let me know on what sort of system/phones you listened.

If you'd like to hear how it sounds with no sax at all, please check out the version I plan including on my upcoming release, "Song of Myself", a collection of reinterpreted covers. Draft tracks are posted here: Song of Myself. There are some other tracks on that page that you're welcome to listen to, as well.

My major collaboration with Woody Mankowski, previously, was the well-received "The Muller's Wheel," which many of you helped with by lending your ears during the mixing/mastering process. The resulting CD is on sale via iTunes (you can search for it there) and CDBaby: The Muller's Wheel. Here are some direct links to the MJ draft mixes, prior to being perfected for the release:

Seafood Gumbo Bop
Oasis On The Rocks
Saddle Shoe Sally
Lost In The West Village
The Müller's Wheel
Windowshade
Fusion of Minds
Struttin' Up Bourbon
River Runs Through Me

Other songs featuring Woody Mankowski:
Pilgrim of the Return
Final Words
A Promise
Dreams III

For more regarding "Song of Myself," please seer the project page on my website: http://www.tobinmueller.com/solo/

Other draft tracks from "Song of Myself" shared on MacJams include:
Dignity (by Bob Dylan)
Blackbird (by Paul McCartney)
Blue Tattoos (based on songs by Joni Mitchell)
Frozen Man (by James Taylor)
I Have Been Deceived (based on songs by Elton John/Bernie Taupin)
American Tune (by Paul Simon)
Oh Danny Boy (traditional)
No Place Like Home (a duet: piano/soprano sax)
Before There Were Gods (with Michael Hedges)
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Song Stats
Hits: 2836
Comments: 76
Fans: 37
Plays: 463
Downloads: 63

Uploaded: Feb 01, 2012 - 02:34:58 PM
Last Updated: Aug 08, 2013 - 10:54:05 AM Last Played: May 04, 2016 - 09:09:36 AM
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Comments
Philip18 said 1938 days ago (February 1st, 2012)
Dorothy's back!
A beautiful interpretation. I'm listened on a set of Sennheiser PX 100-II headphones and thought the balance between piano and sax was fine. I think that balance depends a bit on whether it is your intention for the sax to be the lead and therefore out front or just for there to be interplay between the two, with levels about even. I certainly like what you've done with the tune. Recognisable but different. Impressive work, Tobin!
TobinMueller said 1937 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
Intent
For the most part, my intent would be to have it a duet with the sax playing melody, until my solo, where it is more even to the end. But the sop sax does cut through, in real life; yet I pound on the keys in places and really fill of the room. In headphones, the balance is just the way I like it. Thru my laptop speakers, the sax is too bright and forward. How do most people listen? I think it's through earbuds or on iHomes? I have no idea.

Thanks for the nice words about the arrangement. It was about all I played the first two weeks I got my new piano.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
peacepiano said 1938 days ago (February 1st, 2012)
Jazz
I like this a lot. Very original take on a timeless musical idea. Definitely sounds like Jazz me. Finally, to my non pro ear, the balance is excellent.
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TobinMueller said 1935 days ago (February 3rd, 2012)
Smooth Jazz
Thank you. I changed the genre to Smooth Jazz after reading your comment. I consider the Over The Rainbow sounding sections to be more jazz and the chordal new material section to be more New Age progressions, at least how they were defined back in 1978-1980 when it began to become a genre.

When I first started trying to find a new sound, which ended up dovetailing with other New Age pianists of the day, one of the "tricks" I used was to play fourths in the base, so, instead of playing a Eb chord with an Eb base note, I'd play an Eb sus over an Ab). I also tried to use the Circle of Fifths, at least partially, during progressions, to give a sense of rising emotion or deepening drama. You can hear me doing all of these things during the new material sections in this arrangement.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
TvRicky said 1937 days ago (February 1st, 2012)
Yes My Friend Play it
Ultimate sound and most wonderful musicianship and a sax performance so deeply felt. Jazz is defined here my friend. Piano so beautifully played accents the 'soul' you give to the performance of musical candy I taste here. MARVELOUS OFFERING...Fully enjoyed and heard! Production and Performance Supreme!

A SincerelyZipped, TvRicky
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TobinMueller said 1937 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
wonderful musicianship
Thanks. I'm glad you liked the expressiveness of the piano. Extreme dynamics are definitely hard to capture and translate to a recording. Especially for the soprano sax. Using Logic, I continually altered the volume level to try and even out the lines. I also employed a track limiter on the sax track, rolled off some higher EQs, etc. In headphones, it works well, but my softer playing in the beginning may need a tad of boosting. Glad you liked the playing. It's great working with Woody, he's so willing to discover what will work with whatever I come up with.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
ShadowofNine said 1937 days ago (February 1st, 2012)
No Place Like Home
To my ears it sounds great, I am less concerned with the recording dynamics and more concerned about the music, and this is delightful music supreme even...most enjoyable track...Performances shine...

Check out my latest song called Gone (with Eagle)
TobinMueller said 1937 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
delightful music supreme
Thanks. I'm glad you listened in. It's more and more fun for me to move away from rock/stage music and simply play what I find myself playing when left alone at the piano. Please check out the covers on my Song Of Myself page. I think you'll dig those, too.
http://www.tobinmueller.com/solo/
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
PeterB7858 said 1937 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
Wonderfully developed...
Very engaging, sophisticated instrumental, Tobin. The interplay between the two lead instruments is wonderfully developed and coherent. The mix is good through my headphones but I can hear what you mean about the sax level changing through the song. I think you have done a fine job finding a balance. Kind regards, Peter.
Check out my latest song called Dancing In The Rain (GSB)
TobinMueller said 1937 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
Wonderfully developed...
Thanks. Woody and I have musician ESP. We've been playing together, on and off, since 1989. (Wo, longer ago than I imagined... 23 years!) He is so good, so nice, so earnest, so talented, so knowledgeable. A true joy.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
RochaMalhada said 1937 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
OK, my two cents
Let me begin by saying that I like the arrangement and performances.

You asked for some critique, so I'll do my best as a listener to share my layman’s observations.

I've listened to this multiple times on two different computers, a MacBook Pro and a Dell laptop, using my 20 yr old Sony MDR-V900 headphones as well as a cheap desktop sound system with a bass box and monitors. The MBP has a louder sound card in it. Typically I listen to music with the volume cranked up…

During all listens, I hear a crackling noise during the high peaks when the sax is playing. To my ears, the sax seems dominant in the mix, but perhaps it's due to the differences in the tones of the instruments. I also listened to it with the headphones lying on my desk in front of me with the cans facing me. The sax is even more dominant in volume and tone this way, but not completely surprising…

Regarding the crackling sound; that may be due to compression alone. I noticed that your mp3 file was created using a bit rate of 192 kbps @ 44.1 kHz. I would highly recommend that you use 320 kbps @ 44.1 kHz, with highest quality variable bit rate if you use that option. It may get rid of the noise.

. - Harold
Check out my latest song called Ascent of a Tree (w Mike_D & FEEL)
TobinMueller said 1937 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
Crackling
Thanks. I'm glad you checked in with a solid critique. The crackling issue is a worry. I cannot duplicate it with my laptop speakers or laptop headphones. I had thought I was using a faster bit rate! I will have to go back and re-compress at the better bit rate. It used to be under Preferences in a more intuitive place, under Advanced. The only place I can find bit rate settings is under Preferences>General>Import Settings, which seems to be exclusively relating to importing from a CD, but maybe includes creating an mp3 from an AIFF? Let me know if I'm wrong on this.

Glad you liked the music. I'll email you when I get a new mp3 done to see of the crackling goes away.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
RochaMalhada said 1937 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
It IS under the preferences, import
see my post on this thread, I spell it out

http://www.macjams.com/forum/viewtopic.php?forum=14;showtopic=251352
Check out my latest song called Ascent of a Tree (w Mike_D & FEEL)
PBGB said 1937 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
I hear
what Harold is referring to, but thought it was a natural part of the sop sound. I'm listening on Sennheiser HD280 Pro phones.
Check out my latest song called Shy and Retiring
TobinMueller said 1936 days ago (February 3rd, 2012)
New version
I used Harold's advice and compressed a new mp3 using the better bit rate in iTunes. I've posted the version on my Funk Project page:
http://www.tobinmueller.com/funk/
Harold reports that it has taken care of the "crackling" and added depth to the piano. Thank you Harold!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
DWL said 1937 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
No issues for me
I listened on a 5:1 speaker system and my studio monitors and I can't say I heard anything I'd call unbalanced..

The music itself is wonderful. Consummate improvisation and playing.

The piano sounds great to me with a really resonant bass and clarity at the top end.

Cheers

Dick
Check out my latest song called War with Spain
TobinMueller said 1937 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
5:1 speaker system
Glad to hear it sounds good on your system. It sounds good in my studio, too, but that's so hard to know if it translates elsewhere.

I'm glad the piano resonances came through. Such a different feel than the high range on a soprano sax. I wanted to keep Woody's edge alive, to differentiate him from a Kenny G sound.

My favorite moment is piano solo at 2:30. Makes me think of my mother.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
davajonah said 1937 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
Ears
Well it sounds just wonderful on my monitors, but then my old ears are pretty shot these days. [Tinnitus, sadly] 'Tis beautiful.
Check out my latest song called Lost and Found
TobinMueller said 1936 days ago (February 3rd, 2012)
Tinnitus
I've had tinnitus since I was a sophomore in high school. Interestingly, it coincided to when I started getting lung collapses (4 before graduating from high school). I had all sorts of tests done, but there was no answer to why the tinnitus began. I choose to agree with William Shatner that it is merely a sign that gods are whispering in your ear.

http://members.fortunecity.com/nrbq1/tinnitus.html

After a progressive rock show (my last!) at CT Prog Rock Fest, my left ear screamed in pain for a week. The ringing, especially in my left ear, is mild in comparison to that week.

Thanks for checking in. I'm glad you liked it.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
T_Being_esq said 1937 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
Sounds very good to me
On headphones. The playing is superb and very easily listened to, if you catch my drift. Maybe it went a bit loud in the big bits, but I should turn it down a bit I suppose. Balance is good. My only thought would be to put a little spread on the Sax, just to tickle the ears.
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TobinMueller said 1936 days ago (February 3rd, 2012)
the big bits
Thanks. Yes, if you turn up the intro to where you expect the rest to be, the end gets way too loud. So it goes in the age of compression. It's like those classical orchestra recordings where you have to turn it up and down, cuz there's no compression. I did compress and limit the track, but the natural dynamics are still a lot. I fire I'll compress it more if, after laying down the other tracks, this just doesn't fit the sound of the project. but I didn't want to do it yet, cuz it makes the sax even shriller and the piano lose depth.

I glad it tickled your ears!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
rok41 said 1937 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
No Place Like Home
First, this is gorgeous on all accounts. Top shelf musicianship, really shines.

Listening through very nice Dre Ear Buds, this sounds rich and warm...The Sax in never unbearably loud, but then again, somehow never loud enough to me. Possibly reverb comes into play there?....With that being said,it is very comfortable to me here...The Piano is obviously the more mix dominant instrument here as low end rules. :)...I think you are very close here to being right in the sweet spot. Go back and listen to the phenomenal Remark You Made by Weather Report, and see if you get the same feeling. I think you have done well...but what do I know, I'm a bassist. :)
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TobinMueller said 1936 days ago (February 3rd, 2012)
Piano vs Sax
Thanks for the careful listening. I dig your line "The Sax in never unbearably loud, but then again, somehow never loud enough to me." It is interesting how the piano wraps around and seems dominant in headphones, while in speakers, for me, it is the reverse. I think it has more to do with the stereo field the piano commands, not the reverb. The sax already has a touch more reverb, and I don't want to send it into another space (apart from the piano). I tried widening the sax's pan-field, but it I couldn't do it without affecting the clarity of the solo instrument feel. It was recorded as a mono track, one mic, and I think that's what we have to change, to have more to work with. It just makes mixing the thing that much harder.

I am off to listen to Weather Report now!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
PBGB said 1937 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
Another beautiful
"if this is jazz then I like jazz" experience for me Tobin :) I like the mix a lot, although I reckon the sop might be a tad too bright, especially in the quieter sections. I've just been mixing a sop and Rhodes in our latest, and found it difficult to get right. I went for a more mellow sound which, on listening to this, may not have been the best call.
It is really generous of you to share these tunes here - always a pleasure.
Cheers from Oz,
Neil
Check out my latest song called Shy and Retiring
TobinMueller said 1936 days ago (February 3rd, 2012)
Sax brightness
It is a tough decision, how much brightness to maintain with a sop sax. I totally dig Woody's breath, tonging and spit sound, the air he gets in his sound in certain passages. When I dialed back certain EQs, that went away. So I dialed back every other band in the high range, but then boosted the high miss when mastering, cuz I missed them. Thanks for the "jazz experience" comment. I know my bother, who is an early rock kind of guy, hates jazz. Too many chords. He also dislikes the sustained 4th sound of musicals tunes. I am always heartened by someone when they can cross over and enjoy what I'm doing!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Doug Somers said 1936 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
Rainbow dreams
What a gorgeous duet. You guys sonically dance like an old married couple anticipating each others' moves as your melodies dip and sway - especially impressive in the rubato passages. Maybe I've said that before about your work, but it would still be true here. The variation in energy as the tempo rises and falls makes for a compelling listen. Woody's tone is magnificent, and sings out over your rhythmic playing during the brighter parts of the piece.

I get an almost wistful quality to the piano solo after 2:30. It's lovely in structure and harmony. And your ending is sublime, from Woody's build up with the tenderly wrought melody to the final rising figure in the right hand - I hear myself thinking "Ahhh". The satisfaction of hearing just the right thing that was called for in that final moment.

As to your sound query, I'm no pro so with that said, here goes:

In headphones (Bose, which are a warm I admit) the sax seems to sit back a little compared to the piano. My cheapie Radio Shack phones were the same. I don't think it's quieter than the piano, there is something about the ambience of the space around the sax that pushes it back perhaps. Maybe it's a brain-interpreted 'anti-mic proximity' effect with the sax since the piano has a broader range of tones and so sounds more intimate than the sax. The piano also seems to have a wider image in the cans than the sax.

On both my speakers (older Tannoy Arden 15" with concentric horn tweeters, and newer B&W 602s) the sax is brighter and more prominent and forward, and the piano sits comparatively back (and apparently under) the sax. Wow, it's like two recordings between speakers and cans. Given those two results that sit on either side of the mean, I'd say you have the levels right.

It's clean and well mixed from what I hear. I'm not getting crackling, but I do hear the natural buzz of the reed (5:48) and the clicking of the keys. On the other hand, my high frequency hearing is not what it was so I may be not detecting crackling from clipping if it were there.

Thanks for letting us download this one Tobin. Much appreciated.

Doug
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TobinMueller said 1936 days ago (February 3rd, 2012)
"an old married couple"
Yes, we are like an old married couple. 23 years of playing a dozen different styles of music together helps. And being older and just enjoying the music for what it is, not trying to makes statements. Thanks for noticing.

I truly appreciate the many listens you put this through. It IS astounding how speakers vs headphones makes the track sound like 2 different recordings. Kind of a pain, tho. I feel better about my choices after I see you coming to the same conclusions.

I used Harold's advice and compressed at a higher bit rate. The track is available on my Funk Project page:
http://www.tobinmueller.com/funk/
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
alackbass said 1935 days ago (February 3rd, 2012)
No Place Like Home
Beautifully conceived and realized! Brilliant performance and a truly professional recording!
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TobinMueller said 1933 days ago (February 6th, 2012)
realized!
Thanks. Great to hear. I appreciate it.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Moviz said 1935 days ago (February 4th, 2012)
Tobin
All sounds so very well from where I'm sitting..... beautiful composition/ arrangement, combination and tones. Piano and Sax sound exquisitely recorded... balance is tops.... I'm listening through Ross Digital stereo headphones. I also listened direct through the computer with the same effect; computer is Mac-Intel 10-6. I feel thoroughly refreshed and rested after that, regards M
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TobinMueller said 1933 days ago (February 6th, 2012)
refreshed and rested
Way cool reaction. The purpose of New Age music, back in the late 70s and early 80s when we were developing the sound, was to be a salve to a generation growing up under a nuclear shadow, with change accelerating, and music being a catalyst for fracturing (defining?) differing demographics. Much of it was a light jazz take on hymn motifs, soft anthems, creating a sense of ease and lightness through open chords and lilting progressions, and a use of space (even if many notes were played). There was a sense of trying to create a listenable cross-generation music, a new sound combined with a homage to previous forms that paid tribute to a Gift To Be Simple sort of ethic. A secular sense of spiritualness. The "New Age" moniker was kind of hijacked by the Shirley MacLaine astral-projection crowd, but the musicians who tried to find a sound stayed clear of anything other than the emotive aspect of the sound.

I consider Over The Rainbow to be one of the all time great songs. It is at once a hopeful wish into the future (especially when sung by a 16 year old Judy Garland) and a very nostalgic and almost tragic look backward (when sung by a 44 year old Judy Garland as she sits on the front of the stage, still in her hobo costume, singing about dreams that will never come true: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJy42lRNAkU
I hope I incorporated both aspects.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Sigmund said 1935 days ago (February 4th, 2012)
No Place Like Home
First off, a beautiful piece of music - whimsical and happy - well played and arranged. It is a real pleasure to just sit and listen to without a critical ear.

As I was listening I was reading other's comments. To some, the sax needs a bit more volume or presence, while others think it may be too upfront. I think your balance is very good, and while I hear the fluctuations in the sax volume, it is not distracting or unnatural sounding.

I would have gone for a little more depth in the sound, by adding more ambience to the sax, and perhaps delaying the signal a tiny amount (no more than 10 - 15 ms), just to set it back in the mix ever so slightly. Because the volume mix is good, a little depth may be just what you need to define each instrument's sonic space even better.

Still, a really masterful piece of music, that I very much enjoyed - thanks!
Sig
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TobinMueller said 1933 days ago (February 6th, 2012)
adding depth
Thanks for listening with two ears, critical and non-critical. I agree, adding depth is the one thing I need to do more off. The AIFF has more, since the mp3 compression makes all highs more shrill and metallic, but mp3s are the way most people listen to music nowadays, so that is the end product that needs to be paid attention to. Thanks for checking in. Your comments are much appreciated.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Soundhound said 1935 days ago (February 4th, 2012)
Nice 1.....
An old tune done in a new way......
Had me looking for Dorothy to pop out of my screen......

Peace.....
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TobinMueller said 1933 days ago (February 6th, 2012)
Peace...
Thanks.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
billykirsch said 1934 days ago (February 5th, 2012)
Sax & Piano
This is a beauty. Sophisticated simplicity, like a beautiful woman that you realize is a girl you used to know. Full of colors, textures and variations. I sense the mutual understanding and the joy of you two while playing this.

I would not notice anything in the mix unless you asked for an opinion. I knew the piano was a hard instrument to record, but didn't know about the sax. But then, the sax must be like an expressive and powerful singer with a very complex timbre (and THAT has to be hard).

There are a couple of things about the mix: one is the warm and full sound of your piano. The other is that the sound of the sax doesn't correspond to the fullness and space of the piano.

I went and listened to a couple of Jarret/Garbarek records to get some kind of extra perspective (and try not tell something stupid ;-) I think the sax may need a little bit more bottom end (more body), and perhaps some kind of very subtle reverb or delay just to let it breath in the same room with the piano.
The thing with giving the sax more body is that it would compete with the piano in the mid range, and I guess you probably may need to work with the faders some more to easy the level of the piano a little when both are playing together in the louder parts.

I'm listening with my Koss headphones (open back) and will listen again later in my monitors. I'll let you know if I notice anything else.

Thanks for posting this piece Tobin.

Ah, and happy eight MJ years!!!

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TobinMueller said 1933 days ago (February 6th, 2012)
Sophisticated simplicity
I dig your line "like a beautiful woman that you realize is a girl you used to know." Made me smile! I just finished mixing Woody's tenor sax into an ensemble mix and ended up doubling his track and creating differing EQ/panning with the doubled track, creating a larger sound. I am doing to do the same thing with the soprano when I remix this track and see what happens. I'm also thinking about taking off some of the warmth of the piano and limiting its L-R panning (using a imaging insert), just to see if that equalizes it. Thanks for going to other sources to comment, really appreciate it.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
KCsGROOVE said 1933 days ago (February 6th, 2012)
that sax
lured me right in... :-)
Lovely dance of sax and piano
Inspiring stuff!
Fav and download

Congratz on your 8th anniversary :-)
KC
Check out my latest song called WHEN I GET HOME
TobinMueller said 1933 days ago (February 6th, 2012)
8th anniversary
Thank you. I hadn't realized it had been 8 years. I was thinking more like 6, actually. Time flies. Dang.
I'm glad the sound lured you in. That makes me feel good. Thanks.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
dave_b said 1933 days ago (February 6th, 2012)
No Place Like Home
If Emerald City had jazz clubs, this is what they'd play. At times wistful, at others triumphant, but always smooth. Balance between sax and piano seems great too me. Both lines are sitting clearly in the mix.
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TobinMueller said 1933 days ago (February 6th, 2012)
Emerald City jazz club
What a cool idea. I'd have to wear green sunglasses, for sure! Thanks for the nice visual!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
jordifiol said 1933 days ago (February 6th, 2012)
very good work
Ilike very much your playing!
if anytime you need a bass player on-line count on me!
Greetings
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TobinMueller said 1933 days ago (February 6th, 2012)
if anytime you need a bass player...
I tell you, trying to do jazz songs with no bass player and no percussionist is proving more than daunting. We actually may not finish this project becuz of it. We both keep missing the other guys, and having to play bass lines with my left hand is exhausting. I do need a bas player on 3-4 funk tracks for another project. Please send me a Note if you are interested.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
jibes said 1933 days ago (February 6th, 2012)
Supa!!
Of the highest quality and performance!!
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TobinMueller said 1933 days ago (February 6th, 2012)
Supa!!
Thank you. Glad you liked it. Woody is a joy to play with, for sure.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
grah3am said 1932 days ago (February 6th, 2012)
An evening in
or out, with some nice wine, good company and this music would be a good way to spend one's time. All I can say about the recording is that it sounded fine on my small computer setup. All in all, a lovely fantasy.
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TobinMueller said 1931 days ago (February 8th, 2012)
Wine
Thanks. I am a big wine lover. One of the saddest part of my "newly" discovered A1AD disorder is that I can't drink red wine anymore, and can only drink so much white wine (3 glass maximum). White wine just can't compare. So, I'm discovering tequila. Good for evenings in or out. Cheers!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
eleveneyes said 1932 days ago (February 6th, 2012)
I think I just found...
...the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

Fantastic approach to composing. Fantastic composition. Fantastic performance. I really enjoyed the section from 1:20 to 2:20; the piano motives and chord changes and interplay with the sax is excellent.

Regarding the balance between the sax and piano - I thought it was great. I didn't think the sax was too loud at all. If I saw you guys playing in a small club the sax would naturally be louder than the piano anyway, but I'm not saying that it was too loud in the recording, I thought it was perfect. I also did not notice the crackling that Harold was talking about.

Awesome piece Tobin. You never cease to amaze!
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TobinMueller said 1931 days ago (February 8th, 2012)
gold at the end of the rainbow!
Thanks! That section is reminiscent of my New Age roots. I'm glad you enjoyed it, since it also the original part of the arrangement! Actually, I had rehearsed the thing to death but then when it came time to record, I ended up using different chords toward the end, but it worked maybe better. Funny how that happens.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
kaidavis said 1931 days ago (February 8th, 2012)
What more can one say
this is a masterpiece,it has great movement and the interplay you are having are refreshing and I hear the quiet parts and the build up parts that gives the music character and body,I'm listening them thru my JBL 4208 monitors and the sound is right in your face i can hear everything,now since you all are exchanging in the dance I see a little automation or compression,however It's not master so that is where that come in to play however if you are asking about you engineering skills,all I can say is you are doing your thing everything sounds crisp and clear.Now from 4:30 to 4:56 that part is really beautifully lay out I dont know who compose it however that part really has motion that move me I can feel it that is what it's all about, your piano skills is superb how you interchange with the sax and how you build emotion in your playing,and the saxophonist did his thing with ease,however that part 4:30-4:56 is very moving thanks for the journey
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TobinMueller said 1929 days ago (February 10th, 2012)
a masterpiece
Thank you. That section you mention, 4:30 to 4:56, yes, that's my composition. I arranged the entire track and composed the sections 1:20-2:30 and 4:06-5:12, however I feel like even the fantasy stuff based on Over The Rainbow was composed by me, as a derivative composition. Woody has carte blanche to play whatever he likes, even if I write a specific line for him. Even if I write a line, the ornamentation and expressive substitutions he supplies make it his own.
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sonnyjim said 1930 days ago (February 8th, 2012)
Fine stuff
That's a really nice little trip, Tobin! You both sound comfortable, and the pacing is downright 'conversational'. Solid stuff with a fine, expansive tidal bore near the 5:00 mark.
I'm listening in headphones (Sony MDR-7506), and the sax sits well more or less throughout: at the beginning, it sounded a little harsh, but once the thing gets underway it's all good. The piano sounds really round and rich and sounds like it owns a pretty wide EQ swath. I'm a little out of my depth here, but is it possible to lend the sax a little more mid? Or maybe cut some of his high end?
These are nits, really. Walk tall!

Best,

SJ

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TobinMueller said 1929 days ago (February 10th, 2012)
conversational
I love that comment. It is one of the foundations of jazz. I'm glad you got that impression. I think I will, indeed, go back in and try to mellow the sax a tad. I've tried to widen the panning thru imaging (which didn't help) or double it (which change the sense of intimacy). Due to all the breath and tonguing that is on the track, it gives it a false feel. But I'm still experimenting. Thanks,
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J_Gretch said 1929 days ago (February 9th, 2012)
No Place Like Home
I love the ebb and flow of this piece,and the jazz undercurrent is so tastful...Enjoyed it much Tobin.
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TobinMueller said 1929 days ago (February 10th, 2012)
tasteful
Thanks. The jazz is, indeed, an undercurrent, not an up front presence. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
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Franciscus_Henri said 1929 days ago (February 10th, 2012)
I like where you take this Tobin
this very reflective and poetic
I understand what your dilemma with the sax is,
have you tried pulling the middle EQ down? That might sit it back a little. As I have a degree of synaesthesia I tend to think of music in 3d and colour. the sax is just a touch bright and forces itself to the front.
Another trick might be to record away from the mic.I once saw trumpets recorded through the mic that was set in the grand piano(sic)
I don't know what your recording method is, but I'm old fashioned having learnt in the days of analogue on 4tracks in the 70s and tend to record the actual sound I want, rather than try and create it in the mix (I know this might seem obvious - but Paul Simon writes "Why deny the obvious?") in those days we had to mix down each track as we added so there was no room for going back and changing the sound. These days we tend to be less nervous.
Good track Tobin great musicianship.
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TobinMueller said 1929 days ago (February 10th, 2012)
reflective and poetic
Thanks for your insight. I agree with additional EQ experimentation. It is usually a post-production change, nowadays, when pre-amps and pre-tape boxes are rarely employed. Since the piano is mic'd so closely, intimately, which is what fits into the rest of the project, recording the sax with too much room ambience will make placing them both in the same space even more difficult. Plus, I love capturing all his breaths and tonging articulations with a close mic.

I, too, started recoding back in the day of tape, but started with 16-tracks in the 1980s. We still had to bus parts together, mixing multiple mics to 1 or 2 tracks to tape, etc. Always with drum sets. In fact, that's how it was done when my larger ensemble recorded the CD "Rain Bather" played in a choir room with everything bleeding into everything else. The worst part of the old days was manipulating faders on mix down. It usually took one hour for ever minute to rehearse and perform, with four hands on the faders. A nightmare (for large arrangement projects). I am grateful an SO many ways for current automated mixing and embedded effects. Alleviating stress is only the half of it!

Thanks again for your detailed insights.
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magnatone said 1923 days ago (February 16th, 2012)
No Place Like Home
you're a true master tobin - to my ears this sounds fabulous. you didn't mention what kind of piano you got - ???
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TobinMueller said 1442 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
piano
I have a 5'6" Boston made by Steinway, so I call it my Steinway. ;-)
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apb said 1920 days ago (February 19th, 2012)
Lovely..
I think you had a perfect balance between sax and piano (to my ears) up until the big piano chords came in- I get the dynamic and "oomph" lift-up, but I still thought they were a tad hot. Lovely composition: 'Toto' Recall ;o) - As a child of the 70's - most piano/sax compositions remind me of incidental music on Sesame Street, in the 70s... but that can't be helped... great post.
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TobinMueller said 1442 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
Sesame Street
...how cool is that! Man, how cool would it be to perform on Sesame Street and have Snuffy turn my pages with his trunk!?!
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Ed Hannifin said 1919 days ago (February 20th, 2012)
Very nice, Tobin...
I have really enjoyed the you-and-Woody collars I've heard so far.

I also think that the idea you're working with here is a neat one, and you two are skillful enough to pull it off...

I also think that musical experiments/ideas are kind of useless unless they lead to music that's enjoyable to listen to, and that's what you've got going on here. A good listen...
TobinMueller said 1442 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
You-and-Woody collars
Thanks. He is my favorite collaborator of all time. We do have a few tracks still in the vault...!
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Monkaton said 1918 days ago (February 20th, 2012)
Nice Arrangement
The sax does seem to overpower the piano and the recording at times. Is there a way to round off the sharp edges of the sax? Or maybe that's the way the ball bounces.

The piano sounds good. Congrats on the new instrument.
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TobinMueller said 1442 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
Rounding off
In the mastering, all the tracks were compressed and the mids were pulled back a hair, which was enough to do the track. Now you have to buy the album to hear the difference!!
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gadzooks said 1917 days ago (February 22nd, 2012)
No Place Like Home
Tobin this is so beautiful listening to this this morning. I'm not a techo guy when it comes to recording I just go with what I hear. Maybe the piano and sax could have been separated a bit more, piano panned a wee bit left and sax a bit right? Levels are very comfortable and the performance is fantastic ... heartfelt. There is no place like home....
SG
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TobinMueller said 1442 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
piano l-r stereo
Thanks. One of the things I do more and more as I record myself on piano: I don't separate the left-right hi-low notes as much. Too often it sounds like I am playing a duet with myself. But thanks for you heartfelt comments. Appreciated!
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Doadars Uncle said 1909 days ago (March 1st, 2012)
Rainbow
This one puts me in a really nice place. Something tells me I'm not in Wisconsin anymore.

Thanks
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TobinMueller said 1442 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
omething tells me I'm not in Wisconsin anymore
Love it!!!!!
Smiles all around with that one!
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paul f. page said 1908 days ago (March 1st, 2012)
New perception...
when two great musicians get together, magic sometimes happens...as it does here. You two are in such sync and play with such certainty. ... to my ears, the sax seems a little "dry" in this mix. I, of course, don't know anything about the saxophone, so take that with a grain of salt. I guess I was thinking of a little more "space" in the room. Don't know if that's achievable. Nevertheless, this is a very pleasant number to listen to and certainly a new take on an old classic. A whole collection of these would be a valuable goal.
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TobinMueller said 1442 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
Magic
Thanks. Yes, getting together with Woody almost always ends in magic. I am indeed blessed to have such a friend.
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Kicbal said 1863 days ago (April 16th, 2012)
Beautiful
First, as a sax player. This is some stellar playing. I'm listening at work with ear buds. Soprano is a bit harsh in spots, my guess is that it would sound much warmer if I play this through my studio monitors. Otherwise the balance seems about right between the two instruments.

Unfortunately for me Kenny G (while actually a very talented musician) just about ruined the soprano with his sickeningly sweet (wuss tone), so the soprano walks a fine line with me between the sublime and pure cheese. Luckily Woody pulls ii off here. I especially like the breathy stuff at the end.

Thanks for the download.
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Kicbal said 1862 days ago (April 17th, 2012)
As suspected
Everything sounds quiet nice on the larger studio monitors (M-Audio AV40). Perhaps the sax is still a bit loud and in front in the mix. I don't mind that it's dry. Probably for this accompanyment, it needs to match the ambient reverb sounds that it shares with the piano. BTW, also loving the tasteful piano, backing and improvisation.
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TobinMueller said 1442 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
From one sax player to another...
Thanks for your ears, craft, and insight. Appreciated.
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hongshan said 1856 days ago (April 23rd, 2012)
What a beautiful song!
Tobin,

You are truly blessed to make music like this.Over the rainbow the song was a great memory for me, (wizard of Oz). I think you've done marvelous work here. Fantasies, is a great term to use for how you re-arrange and produce something, via influence rather than a cover. I think, no place like home is totally original none the less. A true work of art with soulful sax and soothing melodies.

I read your bio and what a musical family you have! I wish I could play music like this. Thank you for posting your tune and others. Wonderful performances.
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TobinMueller said 1442 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
"Fantasies" is a great term
Thank you so much. I am very appreciative of the comments here. As it turned out, however, Woody and I could not match our schedules to complete our duet album concept. So, I included this track on my voice/piano album "Song of Myself" and had this be a bonus track. Woody and I do have several funk tracks with our small ensemble still in the vault soon to find the light of day, but an intimate sax/piano duet album may never happen... Sigh
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Name: Tobin Mueller
Location: Rowayton CT USA
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I am a professional musician, composer, playwright and director. I've led a charmed life. I'm married to fellow MJer Suzanne and MJer Twonicus is my son, who currently sings and writes for rock bands in the NYC, D.C. and Cleveland areas. My second s... [see more]

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Smooth jazz is generally described as a genre of music that utilizes instruments (and, at times, improvisation) traditionally associated with jazz and stylistic influences drawn from, among other sources, funk, pop and R&B. Since the late 1980s, it h

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