The quirky music of the Microscopic Septet defies classification, other than it is swinging jazz blended with R&B and a host of other influences, full of twists and turns, yet remaining very catchy and accessible. Their debut LP originally came out on the Press label and was finally reissued as a Koch CD in 1998. Much like the musicians that made up Spike Jones' City Slickers in the 1940s, only some very talented players could follow these demanding charts; yet unlike the comparison to Jones' records, there is nothing that is obviously or purely cornball about this music. It is hard to tell apart the individual writing styles of pianist Joel Forrester and soprano saxophonist Phillip Johnston at this point in their respective careers (both of who achieved success as leaders following the demise of the group). Johnston's liner notes give no clues as to any hidden meanings to the song titles, but Forrester's chugging "Mr. Bradley, Mr. Martin" and Johnston's bizarre "A Strange Thought Entered Head" are particularly good starting points to explore their music. Anyone familiar with the later recordings of either Phillip Johnston or Joel Forrester should definitely check out the hard to define but very enjoyable compositions within this CD.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden