Phillip Johnston of the Microscopic Septet.

In September of 2006, Cuneiform Records released two double CD sets of The Microscopic Septet, entitled “Seven Men in Neckties” (The History of the Micros Vol. 1), and “Surrealistic Swing” (The History of the Micros Vol. 2). To commemorate this hysterical event, we are reuniting the Microscopic Septet for a one-time-only tour in November and December of 2006, consisting of a few dates in the Northeastern US and more in Europe. On Wednesday, November 29th, the group will begin the tour in Northampton at the Iron Horse. Phillip Johnston, at the time he started the Microscopic Septet, was an NYU dropout who’d worked in a succession of jazz, rhythm & blues and polka groups in New York and San Francisco. A largely self-taught soprano saxophonist and composer, Johnston’s work in both areas reveals the powerful and positive influence of Steve Lacy. “I was interested in more arranged, compositionally-oriented music …. from within the swing big band jazz tradition,” Johnston recalls, “as opposed to (the conventional jazz) head-solos-head format.” Organizing a group of fellow musicians, he started with a sax section and planned to add brass later. However, he liked the sound of four saxes and three rhythm so much he decided to stick with that. When he originally named the group, “Claude Funston and the Psychic Detectives” it proved too “unwieldy,” he changed it to the “Microscopic Septet,” who played their first “regular gig” at New York’s Ear Inn in 1981.

Listen here for my conversation with Mr. Johnston.

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About grnarrow

Setlist Architect/Art Scene Checker-Outer/Sound Feeler
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