The Microscopic Septet — Friday the Thirteenth
(Cuneiform Rune 310, 2011, CD)
by Pam Thompson, Published 2011-06-01
Straight ahead jazz with a flair for the avant – that’s Friday the 13th, the latest from The Microscopic Septet. This is the band’s tribute to Thelonious Monk, featuring 12 of his compositions, all arranged by The Micros. Their line-up of sax quartet, drums, bass, and piano provides a foundation for the creativity with which they approach their music. Tunes can be smoothly traditional or inventively edgy, with splashes of humor thrown in for good measure. These guys put down a solid, smooth groove where it’s right, and if a song needs a more abstract approach, so be it — a musical mosaic of bits and bobs creates perfect dissonances and patterns, tightly played. The Micros have been playing together since 1981, and you can hear it in the music; there’s a connection between band members that makes even the most complex passages sound effortless. Monk wrote many of the selections here in the 40s and 50s, and while you can hear the time period in the underlying style, the updated take shows the relevance and vibrancy of Monk’s compositions, and the infinite possibilities the jazz genre provides when it comes to interpretation. Liner notes are done by the band’s leaders, Phillip Johnston and Joel Forrester, and contain tantalizing morsels of information about the songs and the band’s take on them. This is fun jazz with an intellectual bent, satisfying on all levels.
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more