The Microscopic Septet was a creative ensemble
(soprano saxophonist Philip Johnston,
alto saxophonist Don Davis,
tenor saxophonist Paul Shapiro, baritone saxophonist Dave Sewelson,
pianist Joel Forrester, bassist Dave Hofstra and drummer Richard Dworkin)
that concocted an eccentric and sometimes clownish stew of free jazz, progressive-rock and rhythm'n'blues.
The effervescent Take the Z Train (january 1983),
Let's Flip (november 1984),
Off Beat Glory (april 1986),
and Beauty Based on Science (february 1988) were full of twists and turns but
remained true to a homogeneous consistent ideology of passionate irreverence
and unbound imagination.
Forrester and Johnston were the main composers.
Their mutant scores were collages of stylistic quotations that evoked Frank Zappa's madcap romantic orchestral themes.
The band recorded old unreleased songs for Lobster Leaps In (2009).
Joel Forrester and Phillip Johnston paid tribute to
Thelonius Monk on
Friday The 13th - The Micros Play Monk (may 2010).
The Microscopic Septet returned to original material after more than two decades on Manhattan Moonrise
(november 2013). Tracks:
When You Get In Over Your Head
Obeying the Chemicals
A Snapshot Of the Soul
Hang It On a Line
Let's Coolerate One
You Got That Right!
Occupy Your Life
Paul Shapiro's Shofarot Verses (december 2013) featured
Marc Ribot (guitar),
Brad Jones (acoustic bass and vocals) and Tony Lewis (drums).
The Microscopic Septet's
Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down to Me (may 2016) featured the sax quartet of Phillip Johnston (soprano), Don Davis (alto), Mike Hashim (tenor) and Dave Sewelson (baritone) along with Joel Forrester (piano), Dave Hofstra (bass) and Richard Dworkin (drums).
Phillip Johnston & the Coolerators (his Sydney quartet) released Diggin' Bones (Asynchronous, 2018).
Phillip Johnston also scored the soundtrack for the silent film The Adventures of Prince Achmed (2018).