THE MICROSCOPIC SEPTET
(Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion / Swing • United States

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Active for roughly a dozen years, the Microscopic Septet was widely recognized as "New York's Most Famous Unknown Band." The group started with a basic reeds-and-rhythm texture that was sonically similar to the sound of the Swing Era. However, they employed this texture to address a widely eclectic range of styles, from free-form music to R&B, reggae, rhumbas and ragtime. The result was a brilliant blend of fresh-sounding orchestration ideas and inspired soloing. Along with Don Byron and former band-member John Zorn, The "Micros" were also the most celebrated of the many cutting-edge units associated with experimental music's best-known venue, the Knitting Factory, during the peak years of the "Downtown" music movement in the late '80s and early '90s. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License and may also be available under the GNU FDL.
Thanks to silent way, js, snobb for the updates

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Friday The 13th: The Micros Play MonkFriday The 13th: The Micros Play Monk
CUNEIFORM RECORDS 2017
Audio CD$9.96
$9.29 (used)
Manhattan MoonriseManhattan Moonrise
CUNEIFORM RECORDS 2017
Audio CD$9.97
$9.99 (used)
Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down To Me: The Micros Play The BluesBeen Up So Long It Looks Like Down To Me: The Micros Play The Blues
CUNEIFORM RECORDS 2017
Audio CD$12.20
$13.31 (used)
Surrealistic SwingSurrealistic Swing
CUNEIFORM RECORDS 2017
Audio CD$14.52
$15.99 (used)
Seven Men In NecktiesSeven Men In Neckties
Remastered
CUNEIFORM RECORDS 2017
Audio CD$15.95
$8.95 (used)
Lobster Leaps InLobster Leaps In
CUNEIFORM RECORDS 2017
Audio CD$8.57
$7.00 (used)
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THE MICROSCOPIC SEPTET Discography

THE MICROSCOPIC SEPTET albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Take The Z Train
(Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 1983
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Off Beat Glory
(Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 1986
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Beauty Based On Science! (The Visit)
(Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 1988
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Lobster Leaps In
(Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 2008
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Friday the Thirteenth: The Micros Play Monk
(Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 2011
.. Album Cover 3.50 | 2 ratings
Manhattan Moonrise
(Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 2014
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down to Me: The Micros Play the Blues
Swing 2017

THE MICROSCOPIC SEPTET EPs & splits

THE MICROSCOPIC SEPTET live albums

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Let's Flip!
(Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 1985

THE MICROSCOPIC SEPTET demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

THE MICROSCOPIC SEPTET re-issues & compilations

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Seven Men in Neckties
(Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 2006
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Surrealistic Swing: The History of the Micros, Volume 2
(Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 2006

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THE MICROSCOPIC SEPTET Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down to Me: The Micros Play the Blues

Album · 2017 · Swing
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
The Microscopic Septet is one of those eclectic downtown NYC combos that got their start in the early 80s during the so-called ‘knitting factory scene’. The band disbanded in the late 80s, only to reappear a few decades later for today’s NYC scene that still leans toward eclectic influences and a quirky sense of humor. Microscopic has always favored a swing feel in their music, but not in a nostalgic or museum sense, instead, they often infuse their music with bits of the avant-garde, as well as polkas, tangos, cartoon music, punk rock and whatever else may be laying about. On their latest album, “Been Up So Long it Looks Like Down to Me”, the Septet leans heavily on their swing roots as they present eleven originals, plus two covers, that sound like they could have come from a swing dance club in the 40s. All the same, don’t confuse this album with that whole bothersome ’swing revival’ that came out of San Francisco in the post grunge mid 90s. Microscopic’s music is way more informed about what swing was, and can be in the future, than most of the heavy handed dull trend followers that made up the fortunately short lived ‘revival’.

The basic makeup of the Septet is a four piece saxophone section backed by a three piece rhythm section. Right off the bat this gives the band a sound similar to the Four Brothers, the famous spin off combo from Woody Herman’s big band. Other comparisons to the Microscopic sound could be found in the smaller combos led by Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Sun Ra. The fact that most of the members of the Septet are dedicated to this one band gives their horn section a nice cohesion and flow that is often missing from many modern ensembles whose players have to play in many bands just to pay the bills.

There are lots of great cuts on here. “Dark Blue” has a ‘talking’ bari solo that gets into some call and response with the other horns, “PJ in the 60s” opens with a fierce free solo before settling into some excellent Duke flavored riffs, “Migraine Blues’ features some hard driving Count Basie riffs topped by another wild bari solo, and “Quizzical’ has an interesting arrangement that seems to modulate through many keys in a sort of Don Ellis meets Ellington effect. If there is one song that doesn't seem to fit, it would be, "When its Getting Dark", a campy RnB number that sounds similar to the the theme from the old Batman TV show. I guess its only similarity to the other numbers is that, like the rest, it uses blues changes for its chord progression. The song does redeem itself towards the end when it builds up to four saxophones soloing frantically at the same time.

It seems lately that it has become somewhat hip for avant NYC bands to take another look at the possibilities in pre-bop jazz. The result has been some interesting ’hot’ music that gets away from the dry intellectual sound of modern post bop. If this re-examination of early jazz results in imaginative and swinging albums like “Been Up So Long…”, then it can only be a good thing.

THE MICROSCOPIC SEPTET Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down to Me: The Micros Play the Blues

Album · 2017 · Swing
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
kev rowland
The complete title of this album is ‘Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down To Me: The Micros Play The Blues’, and was recorded in just two days last May. The Micros were originally formed in 1980, but split up in 1992 after releasing four albums. These were then reissued as two double CD sets by Cuneiform in 2006, which were so successful that it prompted the band to reform (with only one line-up change). Since then they have released three other albums, and are now back with their fourth. There is only one problem, now that I’ve heard this one I’m going to have to go back and get all the others! When playing jazz recorded before 1960, something I’ve been doing a lot of over the last few years, there are some bands that come close to the boundary with blues, providing a swing and feeling that interweaves the two genres, and that is what I am listening to right now.

This is class Golden Age jazz being taken into blues and creating music that is incredibly accessible, enjoyable, and just so damn soulful all at the same time. My father introduced me to jazz when I was young, encouraging me to listen to Jack Teagarden, Gene Krupa, Bunk Johnson and others, and I know he would get a real kick out of this release as it is right up his alley. They’ve listened to the orchestrations of Duke Ellington, and the way that Thelonious Monk played piano, and brought all this into an incredible album that I can listen to all day. Strangely enough, the song that made the most impression on me is not a blues number as such, but instead is a rather well-known carol. I can honestly say I’ve never heard “Silent Night” played like this before. It starts with just piano, but there is dissonance and chords that don’t quite fit, but actually do very well indeed. This moves into a full band piece that is always recognisable but is taking the song into very new directions indeed. This is a wonderful album, and for details on this and many more invaluable releases visit the label

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