Microscopic Septet

Let's Flip!

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The Microscopic Septet, a freewheeling band full of humor, cut only four records over the course of their lifespan and, though, truth to tell, there wasn't much difference between them, they were all a great deal of fun. Let's Flip, their second album, was recorded live at the Mephisto Club in Rotterdam and gives a reasonable overview of their work. Pianist Joel Forrester's "The Lobster Parade" (fans of the Micros, as they were popularly known, came to expect the frequent appearance of the term "lobster" in their song titles) is the band in microcosm: a swinging, almost cha cha rhythm that resolves into a rendition of the chorus from "Hey Jude" and then into free blowing. The tinge of avant-garde playing was, in fact, what gave the group the necessary bite to keep them from falling back into saccharine routines. Co-leader Johnston was a disciple of Steve Lacy, and his sharp attack on soprano is a regular highlight on this album, as is the robust, outside baritone work of Dave Sewelson. But the stars of any Micro recording were always the compositions, generally by either Forrester or Johnston. The former's in particular, like the driving "Second Avenue," often have an irresistible pulse combined with gorgeous melodies and secondary melodies, scrumptious in and of themselves and serving as fine vehicles for soloing. Fans of Willem Breuker or the ICP Orchestra will find much to enjoy in what was, in a sense, their American counterpart.

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