Still Prone to Wander: An Interpretation of Hymns
Still Prone to Wander is a followup from Mutchler\'s 2001 CD, Prone to Wander, but his improvisation of these hymns is much freer and more advant guarde. This album is full of rich colors and great contrasts. The spirit and strength of some of these timeless hymns comes through in his expressive and creative playing. This album is unique and shows his comfort and skill at various styles and levels of playing. It ranges from quiet and pensive, to spirited and energetic. This is indeed something very special. From the artist's notes on the liner: I was thrilled at how fast the music came together. Over a period of four days in early July (2008) I improvised and recorded the music you now have. Several of these tracks are first takes. I began the recording session with a little warmup improvisation. After a couple minutes it unexpectedly took on some of the thematic material of "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing." It eventually expands into this classic hymn. My spiritual life and my music are both still prone to wander in different directions. God grants us a generous amount of freedom (which births creativity). Sometimes we exercise it wisely. Other times not. We make mistakes, but God's grace draws us back. I've done no editing of material on this CD. I wasn't striving for "perfection." It is all improvised and done largely "on the fly" with minimal preparation. I am exceedingly pleased with what transpired. Sure, I can listen back and point to places where I might have chosen a different note, a different chord, a different dynamic. But throughout all the "wandering" that takes place in some of these renditions I always seem to make it back "home!" Martin Luther's timeless "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" was part of a jazz improvisation I performed at my senior jazz recital at Western Washington University. That was the last time I improvised on it until this album. Luther's themes are bold and fearless. I've tried to interpret his hymn in the same way. I have included two versions of it. Chris Rice's "Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)" is popular right now. Like many good hymns it tells a story of struggle and dependance upon God. I suspect it will be around for a while and have included two takes on this CD. I have always liked the melody of "For the Beauty of the Earth" but I have never really played it much until I decided I needed an additional song for this CD. I kept this one very simple with an ostinato left hand staying in one position. This arrangement came together in about 15 minutes. Our church began singing "I Need Thee Every Hour" after I heard a lovely worship version of this done in slow 6/8 time at a retreat. This is the third song on this CD with an alternate version included. I happily dedicate "We Gather Together to Ask the Lord's Blessing" to my university piano professor, Ford Hill, who had been asking me to do an arrangement of this favorite hymn. He has now challenged me to write out a set of difficult variations on the same melody. I have some ideas. He's promised to perform it. "How Deep the Father's Love" is one of our favorites at church. It is, if you notice, in 5/4 time and here I have done it fairly straight forward. I have been singing the chorus to Helen Lemmel's hymn, "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus since my college days in Bellingham." (By the way, Helen was blind when she penned these words!) A few months ago I wanted to introduce it to our Ferndale church. I re-harmonized the melody and then added an alternate original chorus . A wide range of church traditions sing "The Doxology." At our church we sing the text to both common songs: the French melody by Louis Bourgeois and the lengthened version (also known as "All Creatures of Our God and King"). I am including a "Part 1" and "Part 2" rendition of the French version. The first part is slow, the second is more energetic.