Microscopic Septet

The Microscopic Septet were one of the most distinctive jazz ensembles in New York during the '80s and early '90s. Combining a love for the big-band sound with a progressive approach to arrangement and composition, the Micros managed to be nostalgic and futuristic at the same time. Founded by N.Y.U. dropout and soprano saxophonist Philip Johnston, the group that came to be known as New York's most famous unknown band featured pianist Joel Forrester, tenor saxophonist Paul Shapiro, baritone saxophonist Dave Sewelson, bassist/tuba player Dave Hofstra, and drummer Richard Dworkin. For a time, the group's alto sax slot was filled by John Zorn, later replaced by Don Davis. Though Johnston originally planned to add brass to the ensemble, the septet's sound was so refreshing as it was that he left it with four reed and three rhythm players.