Exposé Online banner

The Microscopic Septet — Manhattan Moonrise
(Cuneiform Rune 370, 2014, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2014-09-27

Manhattan Moonrise Cover art

For all our obsession with music as art, we sometimes forget that it is, at the most basic level, entertainment. Sure, life without music would suck, but you wouldn't actually die without it. Unless you went crazy and killed yourself... But all such speculation aside, there's no reason music can't be both fun and artistically satisfying, both engaging to the mind and bringing a smile to the face. The Microscopic Septet fits in here, with music that could be reasonably described as jazz that mostly takes after the pre-bop era, before jazz split so decisively from pop music. Not that they're totally stuck in the past either — the playing is all fresh, and the solos venture outside swing-era sweetness, though not so far as squawking. Melody and groove are the watchwords, and the arrangements for multiple saxes are all tasty and impeccably executed, with a balance of harmonies and polyphonic lines to keep it interesting. There are some elements of 60s soul-jazz as well, as on "Obeying the Chemicals," which infuses a boogie-woogie rhythm with a cool, slinky vibe. The result is a kind of music-out-of-time that can as easily appeal to young listeners, their parents, or their grandparents. It's jazz made both accessible and brainy, worthy of both toe-tapping and close analysis. Bravo, guys! Thanks for a little sunshine in a world full of trouble.


Filed under: New releases, 2014 releases

Related artist(s): The Microscopic Septet

Latest news

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Soft Machine - Live at Henie Onstad Art Centre 1971 – The challenge for any archivist of the Soft Machine catalog has been to present just what it was like to attend a performance by the classic line-up of Wyatt, Dean, Ratledge, and Hopper. Now with half...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues