The Microscopic Septet, a mid-size jazz combo with orchestral ambitions, has lived through many eras of jazz, beginning in New York City in the early 1980s. Back then, the band became a centerpiece in the city's downtown scene with John Zorn (an original member), Wayne Horwitz, and The Jazz Passengers.
Its co-leader, Phillip Johnston, said he wanted to create music "too smooth for the avant-garde yet too knotty for the masses." In this Checkout studio session, they play the blues — as on their latest album, Been Up So Long, It Looks Like Down To Me.
Watch the band in performance of Johnston's original blues "Cat Toys," a composition he scored for a short film about aliens coming to earth to feed on feline house pets.
The Microscopic Septet:
Phillip Johnston: Co-leader and soprano saxophone
Joel Forrester: Co-leader and pianist
Richard Dworkin: Drums
David Hofstra: Bass
Don Davis: Tenor saxophone
Dave Sewelson: Baritone saxophone
Mike Hashim: Alto saxophone
Music Mix: Corey Goldberg
Video: Chris Tobin
Production Intern: Molly Fichter