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The Microscopic Septet is raising money to fund the recording of its first new CD since Friday The 13th: The Micros Play Monk
139 backers pledged $10,171 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$10,171

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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.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    A copy of the CD

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    A copy of the CD, signed by all of the Micros, and a credit as Beloved Sponsor

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    A copy of the CD, signed by all of the Micros, and a credit as Beloved Sponsor, plus a signed copy of the Joel Forrester/Phillip Johnston CD "Live At The Hillside"

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    A copy of the CD, signed by all of the Micros, and a credit as Beloved Sponsor, plus a piano score for a tune from the record of your choice, signed by the composer.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A copy of the CD, signed by all of the Micros, and a credit as Highly Beloved Sponsor, plus a grab bag of 4 other CDs by Joel Forrester and/or Phillip Johnston

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Invitation to a private party featuring the Microscopic Septet. We are not going to perform in NYC any more until the release of our new CD. But on the evening of Sunday Nov 24th we are going to host a private event at which the Micros perform, for a select guest list of 25 people. We will perform the entire CD, plus a number of other obscure relics from Microscopic Septet that have never been recorded, and are not likely to be soon, unfortunately.
    The Micros will be available for socializing between sets. The date is the evening of Sunday Nov 24th, from 6.30PM-9.30PM, location in midtown Manhattan to be revealed to participants.

    And credit as a Highly Beloved Sponsor.

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    Pledge US$ 300 or more About US$ 300

    A film music lecture from Phillip Johnston on the music of Bernard Herrmann for Alfred Hitchcock.

    I’ve been teaching a course in the History of Film Music for about 15 years. One of my areas of specialization as an academic is the music of Bernard Hermann. I have given lectures both in Universities, and for the general public on his music.

    For a $300 contribution to the Micros fund-raising effort, I will come to your house, you can invite a few friends over and for one hour or so I will talk about the music for three Hitchcock films: Vertigo (1958), North By Northwest (1959) and Psycho (1960), illustrated by clips from the films, from a composer’s point of view – seasoned with details and anecdotes from their collaboration. I don’t know if it sounds pedantic, but people seem to find it pretty interesting, and if you have a TV with a decent-sized screen it could be the beginning of a pretty enjoyable evening with some cinema-philic friends.

    Other film topics available upon request.

    There are several windows of time when I could do this: date to be determined by mutual agreement subject to my availability.

    And credit as a Highly Highly Beloved Sponsor.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Phillip Johnston and Joel Forrester will come to your house and play as a duo for a party or social gathering, or just for you, if you like.

    Time subject to mutual convenience, several time windows available.

    And credit as a Highly Highly Beloved Sponsor.

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    The Micros will play at a party for you. This award is limited to the NYC area, and is dependent on availability. Several time windows possible between now and May 2014.

    And credit as a Highly Highly Highly Beloved Sponsor.

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Funding period

- (30 days)