Combining all-stars players in a variety of dynamic jazz stylings, RAIN BATHER captures fabulous performances on this extra long play CD. Their breadth of talent finds play within totally hip arrangements of Tobin Mueller's innovative compositions. RAIN BATHER moves adroitly between contemporary jazz, progressive big band, fusion, acid and funk. Three tracks (1, 2, 4) employ a progressive octet; two tracks use a septet (8, 10). The rest of the tracks build on a core quartet of organ, piano, drums and bass, adding in one or two extras voices (sax, trumpet, flute, clarinet and/or violin), lending a wonderful variety of the colors and tones. Tobin brings his progressive rock organ (see: AUDIOCRACY) to the jazz scene, becoming the front man of an octotet (ensemble listed below) as well as a multitasking keyboardist in a breakout quartet setting (that also highlights solo woodwinds). Chris Mueller provides elegant acoustic piano accompaniments and solid arranging, with plenty of space for memorable improvisations and solos. There are so many great moments on this 80-minute extended play CD, but a shout out has to go to Woody Mankowski's astounding soprano sax solo in Cliff's Edge, his multi-sax layering in Windowshade; the retro-acid tripping flute solos of Sal Giorgianni, especially in Seven Buttons On A Nehru Jacket; and the old school clarinet stylings of Bill Barner in Secret of Life and Last Song On Vaudeville. Carl Fisher's trumpet solos in Acid Hopping really groove, with a whole collection of mutes and plungers employed. Martyn Kember-Smith's celtic fiddle provides a perfect change of pace in Caught In The Current. Although most of the album is hard-driving and up tempo, two mellow ballads include breathtaking sax solos: River Runs Through Me (Woody Mankowski on soprano) and Waltzing Night Into Day (Doug Schneider on tenor). The interplay between piano and organ in Must Go Back and Finding No Path also deserves a special mention. Through it all, Dane Richeson's percussion permeates and exults; his years studying everywhere from Paris to the Sudan come into play. This ensemble never treads water, never back pedals. Everything is full forward. A truly entertaining and inventive collection of tunes. Every track drives, is unique. Many of these tunes are jazz renditions of songs from Tobin Mueller's Broadway show Creature (tracks 1-5, 7, 11-12). Chris Mueller was pianist for the 1990s run, so he knows the music inside out, and it shows. The intensity of storytelling remains active in the arrangements, as well as the singable lyricism of each intertwining melody. These recordings transcend the original songs, however, living and breathing as completely unique jazz performances. As Dr. Frankenstein would say, this music is truly alive. Although it is the current rage to purchase music as downloads, the packaging is particularly pleasing in this CD. The disc resembles an old 45 record, complete with vinyl and grooves. The fade-to-scratches (mimicking a 78 RPM) aids the illusion. Worth purchasing just to be able to hold in in your hands. THE ENSEMBLE: Tobin Mueller - B3 organ, electric piano, composer Chris Mueller - acoustic piano Jeff Cox - acoustic bass Dane Richeson - drums & percussion Woody Mankowski - soprano saxophone Tom Washatka - tenor saxophone Doug Schneider - tenor sax Ken Schaphorst - flugelhorn Bob Levy - trumpet Carl Fischer - trumpet Sal Giorgianni - flute Bill Barner - clarinet, additional sax McBoy - electric guitars This is music with a fresh spin, played by a band that creates conversations. It is unique and hard to pigeon hole. Listeners of the following artists will love it: Brecker Brothers, Ed Palermo Big Band (especially renditions of Frank Zappa's stuff), The Muffins, Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, Chic Corea, Herbie Hancock, John Schofield, and Medeski Martin & Wood. For more ensemble jazz by Tobin Mueller, please see his enlivening collaboration with saxophonist Woody Mankowski: The Muller's Wheel.