434

Microscopic Sextet: Seven Men in Neckties & Surrealistic Swing

By

Sign in to view read count








Microscopic Septet
Seven Men in Neckties
Cuneiform
2006


Microscopic Septet
Surrealistic Swing
Cuneiform
2006




The Microscopic Septet's founder Phillip Johnston frequently posits that the band's music, much of which was penned by him, is "avant-garde . It can be quirky, is often fun to hear and it just manages to swing, but it is anything but groundbreaking.

The Micros' music is a frantic hodgepodge of styles cleverly entwined into facile arrangements, overlaid with a big band jazz sound and intellectually dressed up with geekily funny titles. It is lighthearted and lightweight and it can be mildly exhilarating in the same way that a good They Might Be Giants tune can be. It's got the kind of adolescent smarts that tries to hide its earnestness under a thin veneer of hipness.

The Micros, however, are now far from young. Their music, nothing to be taken too seriously when it was created (in the mid '80s and in the '90s), has a goofiness that may appeal to those who feel jazz tends to be too gravely self-important. The Micros are, inevitably, sometimes compared to the great Willem Breuker Kollektief, but this is unfair to the latter, who have been around much, much longer, plainly possess a greater degree of gravitas (underneath the wild playfulness) and put on better live shows to boot.

Speaking of live shows, the Micros delivered at a packed Joe's Pub in early December. The shows were in support of these two double CD sets, which purport to contain the band's entire recorded output. Live, the Micros belt out the tunes with reliable tightness and made-for-NPR stage banter, but the rhythm section lacks power and Johnston's soprano sound seeped limply out of the bell. Don Davis' alto solos delivered some needed heat and Dave Sewelson's baritone solos were fiery, creative highlights. The crowd seemed happy, as only crowds who've been spared anything heavy or 'avant-garde' can be.


Tracks and Personnel

Tracks: CD1: Brooklyn In The Fifties; Baghdad Blues; Crepescule With Nellie; In The Mission; March Of The Video Reptiles; I Saw You In Utah (Idaho); I Am The Police; By You, Do You Mean You Or Me?; Kelly Grows Up; Watching Television. CD2: Off Colour; Come From Behind; Rocky's Heart; Infernal Garden Blues; Waltz Of The Recently Punished Catholic Schoolboys; Little Bobby; The Dream Detective; Lobster In The Limelight; The Visit; Fool's Errand; Dill Pickle Tango; One Room Too Far Away; You Know What You Know; Fresh Air Theme (Gulf War); Fresh Air Theme (Happy Twin).

Personnel: Phillip Johnston: soprano saxophone; Don Davis: alto saxophone (CD1:1-8, CD2:2-15); John Zorn: alto saxophone (CD1:9,10); Paul Shapiro: tenor saxophone (CD1:1-8, CD2:1-15); John Hagen: tenor saxophone (CD1:9,10); Dave Sewelson: baritone saxophone; Joel Forrester: piano; David Hofstra: bass, tuba; Richard Dworkin: drums.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Of Stories, Songs, and Self: Fred Hersch's Good Things Happen Slowly & Open Book Multiple Reviews Of Stories, Songs, and Self: Fred Hersch's Good Things...
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 21, 2017
Read The Art (de Vivre) of the Trio Multiple Reviews The Art (de Vivre) of the Trio
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 12, 2017
Read Sven-Åke Johansson's Blue For A Moment Multiple Reviews Sven-Åke Johansson's Blue For A Moment
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 2, 2017
Read Roots In The Green Mountains Multiple Reviews Roots In The Green Mountains
by Doug Collette
Published: July 29, 2017
Read Green Mountain Jazz Multiple Reviews Green Mountain Jazz
by Doug Collette
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Guitars on Three Continents Multiple Reviews Guitars on Three Continents
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 16, 2017
Read "Of Stories, Songs, and Self: Fred Hersch's Good Things Happen Slowly & Open Book" Multiple Reviews Of Stories, Songs, and Self: Fred Hersch's Good Things...
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "Duke Ellington on Storyville Records" Multiple Reviews Duke Ellington on Storyville Records
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 20, 2017
Read "Paul Kelly: Seven Sonnets & A Song and Death's Dateless Night" Multiple Reviews Paul Kelly: Seven Sonnets & A Song and Death's...
by Doug Collette
Published: October 16, 2016
Read "Tim Motzer: Wandering the Depths of Space" Multiple Reviews Tim Motzer: Wandering the Depths of Space
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "Margrete Grarup: Denmark's jazz secret is out" Multiple Reviews Margrete Grarup: Denmark's jazz secret is out
by Chris Mosey
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "Blue Side of Lonesome: Country Crooners on BGO" Multiple Reviews Blue Side of Lonesome: Country Crooners on BGO
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 23, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.