Normalology (Eighth Day EDM 80007)

What This is:

When the Microscopic Septet ended (in 1992, I believe), I was left with many tunes that were never recorded, due to the famed "Micro recording ban of '87- '92." I decided to go back and record some of them with a group picked from the players I work with now on all my projects, some of the ex-Micros, some not. Some of the arrangements are the same, some have been re-written (as is my vice). I think it came out pretty well, and anyone who mourns the demise of "the world's most famous totally unknown band" may want to pick up on it.



  1. Normalology - (6:22)
  2. Got Lucky - (6:28)
  3. Dr. Kickback Supreme - (5:39)
  4. Things Happens - (4:09)
  5. Lobster Leaps In - (4:30)
  6. Almost Right - (3:40)
  7. Spilled Perfume - (7:43)
  8. Life's Other Mystery - (6:20)
  9. God's Little Joke - (7:13)
  10. My Grey Heaven - (1:45)
  11. Twilight Time Zone - (5:14)
  12. Slave Labor - (2:15)
  13. No Mistakes In Hell - (5:01)

Phillip Johnston - soprano saxophone.
Allan Chase - alto saxophone.
Paul Shapiro - tenor saxophone.
Bob DeBellis - baritone saxophone.
Joe Ruddick - piano.
David Hofstra - bass.
Richard Dworkin - drums.
Stew Cutler - guitar(1,3,8)

Composed, arranged and produced by Phillip Johnston.
Executive Producer: Andrew Caploe.
All compositions (c) and (p) Jedible Music (BMI)
Record and Mix Engineer: Jon Rosenberg.
Recorded April 29/30; Mixed May 13/20, 1996.
at Tedesco Studios in scenic Paramus, NJ USA.
Digital Editing and Sequencing by Butch Jones.
at Back Pocket Studio NYC June 1, 1996.
Cover Art: R. Nemo Hill
Liner notes: Phillip Johnston


"... Saxophonist/composer Phillip Johnston's music embodies all that's good about jazz. It's honest, original, and inspired, above and beyond the typical. It's also some of the smartest and best-humored music to have found a home under the jazz banner."
- Chris Kelsey, Jazziz. (January, 1998)


...Johnston is a brilliant post-modern composer, combining such disparate genres as Latin groove and Eastern European klezmer in "Got Lucky", and shifting from pensive piano introduction to lighthearted ragtime, to elegant swing, to funky riffs in "Things Happen". The music is consistently inviting, surprising, accessible, intriguing, and great fun. The players are uniformly excellent, effortlessly swinging between styles while blowing up a storm and negotiating demanding charts. Post-modern, new- wave traditionalism at its best."
- Stan Dick, SPECTATOR Magazine, Raleigh, NC (December, 1997)

Readers familiar with soprano sax player Phillip Johnston's memorable music with the Microscopic Sextet and subsequent Big Trouble project can expect comparable charm and scope on "Normalology"....The absence of brass instruments combined with Johnston's eclectic scope as a composer gives his ensemble a distinctive sound that's often compared to Willem Breuker. Yet his approaches to bop in the chase arrangement of "Almost Right," deviant variations of "Slave Labor" and jaunty tempo modulations in "Spilled Perfume" suggest a reliance on European art-songs that has vital precedents in the music of Carla Bley. The ebullient polyphony of "Got Lucky" after Johnston's duo with Shapiro is just one example of a sound that's now identifiably the composer's own."
-David Lewis, Cadence Magazine (November, 1997)


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