The Microscopic Septet had been disbanded for quite a few years by the time a pair of twin CD reissue compilations appeared on the Cuneiform label in 2006, prompting a brief reunion of the group to support sales. The musicians had so much fun that they decided to get together again to record a few of the many compositions that the band played during its existence, reuniting pianist Joel Forrester, soprano saxophonist Phillip Johnston, alto saxophonist Don Davis, baritone saxophonist Dave Sewelson, bassist David Hofstra, and drummer Richard Dworkin, with the one new addition being tenor saxophonist Mike Hashim. There were rehearsals and a few live engagements prior to the studio recording session, though Johnston warned that one can hardly expect the playing to be at the level of when the band was working regularly. As on their recordings of the 1980s, the originals by either Forrester or Johnston are often loopy and unpredictable, with lots of sudden twists and plenty of room for spirited improvisations. Wayne Horvitz's "Night Train Express," which was often used as an opening number when the band was in its heyday, is revived as a perfect way to reintroduce the Microscopic Septet, a fairly straight-ahead (by the band's standards, anyway) number blending boogie, R&B, and bop. Johnston's "Lobster Leaps In" has the flavor of Raymond Scott's works of the 1930s and 1940s, though it quickly loosens up. Forrester's "Money Money Money" is a wailing avant-garde masterpiece that sounds as if it could have been recorded during the 1960s. Rest assured that if you enjoyed earlier recordings by the Microscopic Septet, you will be delighted with their nostalgic yet forward-looking reunion.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden