Jazz CD Reviews
The Microscopic Septet – Friday the Thirteenth – The Micros Play Monk – Cuneiform Records
Published on November 21, 2010
The Microscopic Septet – Friday the Thirteenth – The Micros Play Monk – Cuneiform Records Rune 310 *****:
(Phillip Johnston, soprano sax; Don Davis, alto sax; Mike Hashim, tenor sax; Dave Sewelson, baritone sax; Joel Forrester, piano; David Hofstra, doublebass; Richard Dworkin, drums)
What a perfect match!: the quirky off-center music of Thelonius Monk together with the quirky off-center music of The Microscopic Septet. According to Jazz Times 2010 is “The Year of the Monk,” and it turns out this CD has a very close connection to the great jazz composer-performer who the Penguin Guide to Jazz said “ranks with Morton and Ellington.” The Septet’s pianist and sometime arranger Joel Forrester was friends with the Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter and met and periodically played piano for Monk. The Septet had previously only recorded a single Monk tune – his “Crepuscle with Nellie.”
Now here are a dozen Monk tunes in the inimitable and unique style of the Microscopics with their sax quartet accompanied by a rhythm section. Monk and the Micros have a lot in common and it all comes out in this delightful gig. The patented odd angles and bright colors are beautifully delivered by the Septet. They get into a delicious Monk groove that’s somehow better than that recorded by other more famous ensembles over the years. Not limiting themselves to familiar Monk tunes, they also dug up some rarities: Gallop’s Gallop, Worry Later, and the title tune. There’s a wonderful feel-good yet hip vibe about everything they do. The humorous side of Monk comes thru clearly. This is certainly not a dry re-creation of Monk.
TrackList: Brilliant Corners, Friday the 13th, Gallop’s Gallop, Teo, Pannonica, Evidence, We See, Off Minor, Bye-Ya, Worry Later, Misterioso, Epistrophy.
– John Henry