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.
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