Background: In 2010, The Microscopic Septet ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund the recording and post-production of a new CD of our arrangements of tunes by Thelonious Monk. Thanks to you, we successfully raised $10,000 and went on to record Friday The 13th: The Micros Play Monk. The record was universally praised, was featured on many critics’ best of the year lists, and led to the Microscopic Septet being listed as #6 on that year’s Downbeat International Critic’s Poll (see below for a few samples of reviews). It’s work we are really proud of and we thank those who contributed – we couldn’t have done it without you!
The Microscopic Septet, since reuniting in 2006, has worked under a large handicap (jokes, please): that co-leader Phillip Johnston lives in Sydney, Australia. Although he returns to New York periodically to perform, record and work on collaborative projects (such as the score for Henry Bean’s film Noise (2007) or more recently Wordless! (with Art Spiegelman), it means that The Microscopic Septet can only perform infrequently, and while the band has steadily sounded better and better during their years of re-animation, our ability to steadily build a fan base by performing and recording regularly is limited. Thus in 2013 we find that we must again reach out to ask you to help us fund our new record.
The Project: The new CD, to be titled Manhattan Moonriseis our first CD containing newly composed material since we began playing together again in 2006. It will contain a combination of older tunes, many of them newly re-arranged, and new material that Joel and Phillip have written for the occasion.
The tunes on the recording will range from Joel's ‘No Time’, which is #6 in the Microscopic Septet book, (a tune we used to play at the Ear Inn in the early 80s, when John Zorn was playing alto sax with us); to new things like Phillip's ‘Satan Takes A San Francisco Holiday’ and Joel’s ‘Occupy Your Life.’ The Micros are playing at the top of their game, and I think this will be our best CD ever!
Here are some samples of some of the tunes we will record, recorded live at a 2013 gig at Joe’s Pub in NYC:
When You Get In Over Your Head (Johnston) https://soundcloud.com/pjohnston/when-you-get-in-over-your-head
Until Tomorrow (Forrester) https://soundcloud.com/pjohnston/until-tomorrow
Time: Time is short. We are booked into the recording studio at the end of November to record the CD, and it has a place in the Cuneiform release schedule celebrating their 30th Anniversary in May. In addition to the Kickstarter rewards, all contributors, large or small, will be sent regular links to artifacts from the history of the Micros, and other current projects – songs from Phillip's musical, archival Micros recordings, and look-ins to various ongoing projects.
We really hope you can be part of this project and support one of modern jazz’s most enjoyable, unique, and just plain odd ensembles, The Microscopic Septet.
What critics had to say about Friday The 13th:
Downbeat (December 2010 Editors' Picks) “Just about the time you ask yourself, 'What else can be done with a Monk tune?' The Microscopic Septet comes in to blow you away... Septet co-leaders Johnston and Forrester have been loving and playing Monk together since the 1970s, and their joy infuses every second of this disc.”
Village Voice “Monk's music deserves to be interpreted by artists who know what a funny bone feels like, and this longstanding outfit has never been at a loss for a grin or three. So no wonder their new Friday the 13th is such a pip of a tribute disc. Whether turning 'Gallop's Gallop' into parade music or blowing some Caribbean smoke through 'Bye-Ya,' they illustrate swing's whimsical side. Call it repertory as romper room, and yes, it takes lots of sobering skills to get such exclamation off the ground.” (Jim Macnie)
LA Weekly “Understanding that something old + something new equation is what New York's venerable Microscopic Septet have got down like muscle memory, and now dig their new Friday the 13th: The Micros Play Monk on the ace Cuneiform label, which features this insanely inventive band in wickedly modern interps of Monk's farsightedly skewed visions.” (John Payne)
Point of Departure “There have been plenty of Monk tributes throughout the years, some worthwhile, many forgettable, but few with the intrinsic connection to the material that The Micros Play Monk exudes. Though widely revered for his harmonic and rhythmic advancements, Monk was as much an advocate of the tradition as he was an innovator. The Microscopic Septet has championed a similar inside/outside attitude for almost three decades, long may they persevere.” (Troy Collins)
The Microscopic Septet web page: http://www.microscopicseptet.com/
The Microscopic Septet on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Microscopic-Septet/141302269231668
Joel Forrester’s web site: http://joelforrester.com/
Phillip Johnston’s web site: http://www.phillipjohnston.com/
Risks and challenges
Our biggest challenge is that we have much more material that we'd like to record than we have time for. If we raise extra money, we'd like to book an extra day of recording and record more of the great Micros material from the 1980s that has never been recorded, and there's a lot of it! But beyond that, I feel fairly confident of our ability to successfully record a record, since Joel and I have been doing so for about the last 35 years.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)