About the Microscopic Septet


The Microscopic Septet: Richard Dworkin (drums), David Hofstra (bass), Phillip Johnston (soprano saxophone), Mike Hashim (tenor saxophone), Dave Sewelson (baritone saxophone), Don Davis (alto saxophone), Joel Forrester (piano)


The Microscopic Septet are widely considered one of the most important and unique bands to come out of the New York Downtown scene of the 1980s. Never sufficiently contained by a single category, the Micros—co-led by by soprano saxophonist Phillip Johnston and pianist Joel Forrester—formed during a remarkable period of musical experimentation and quickly distinguished themselves as a raucously fun, musically adept, and wickedly clever jazz band.

Originally active from 1980–1992 and reunited annually since 2006, the Micros mix a reeds-and-rhythm texture similar to those of the Swing Era with influences from the entire continuum of jazz. The result is a brilliant blend of fresh-sounding ideas, orchestrations, and inspired soloing, topped by a unique combination of swing, energy, and humor that DownBeat Magazine recently described as “seminal, brilliant post-modern jazz.”

But their inspiration is by no means limited to jazz alone. The Micros reward even casual listeners with tasty bits of klezmer, Latin, R&B, tango, and tributes to pop entertainment ranging from silent comedy through big-screen melodrama, with stops at Warner Brothers cartoons and B-movie camp along the way. Unencumbered by the humorless purism of uptown jazz critics, audiences quickly recognized what the former took decades to see: music this eclectic doesn't require a cap and gown to appreciate it.

In 2008 the Micros released their first new recording since 1996 to raves from audiences and critics alike. Their most recent release, 2010's Friday the 13th: The Micros Play Monk, finds the band circling back to its roots with a retrospective on the tunes of Thelonious Monk mixed liberally with that distinct Microscopic flavor. Critical acclaim agrees: With all of the 20th century to work with, the Microscopic Septet mix a very fine cocktail indeed.

Read more in the Macroscopic History of the Microscopic Septet.

Meet the band.

Read more about the Micros’ latest uncommon release, Friday the 13th: The Micros Play Monk.