Joel Forrester & Phillip Johnston Duo

Joel Forrester: piano
Phillip Johnston: soprano saxophone

Joel Forrester and Phillip Johnston met in 1974 on East Tenth Street in New York City’s East Village when Joel wandered into Phillip’s apartment, after hearing him practicing Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” from the street. Since that time they have played in trios, quartets, septets, and most notoriously in The Microscopic Septet, which they co-lead. But during the past 35 years they have always continued to play as a duo.

In November of 2010, Joel Forrester and Phillip Johnston embarked on a short tour of the West Coast to promote the Microscopic Septet’s CD Friday The 13th: The Micros Play Monk (Cuneiform Rune 310). They did radio interviews, and played gigs as a duo, as they had for years, and as part of the promotion of the record played Monk tunes, including ‘Well You Needn’t’. They really didn’t need an excuse, as they had been playing Monk tunes since they first began playing together in the early 70s.

Nov 26th 2010 was a special night at The Hillside Club, in Berkeley, California. Despite almost missing the gig after being trapped in San Francisco in a street rally by Critical Mass, they arrived just a little late, and, leapt on stage and began playing. Fortunately the evening was recorded by the artistic director, Bruce Koball (whose day job happens to be as a recording engineer), because it turned out to be a good one.

Jazz Times called it, “a masterpiece of intimacy, empathy and synergy”.

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