Normalology was originally released in 1997 on Eighth Day Records, a small label out of Chicago. At the time I didn't think that The Microscopic Septet would ever perform or record again, and I thought it a shame that these pieces would never be heard by any but the notorious "cult following" of the Micros.
So I assembled a group composed of the people I was then working with in my group, Big Trouble, and ex-Micros, and recorded some of them for this record.
Unfortunately, the record company went out of business almost as soon as the record came out, so, while it got some good reviews, the record virtually never saw the inside of a record store.
It was later re-released by Koch Jazz, but again went out-of-print when Donald Elfman was fired and the great Koch Jazz label was corporately-downsized by Koch Records.
Phillip Johnston: soprano saxophone
Allan Chase: alto saxophone
Paul Shapiro: tenor saxophone
Bob DeBellis: baritone saxophone
Joe Ruddick: piano, organ
Stew Cutler: guitar
David Hofstra: bass, Fender bass ,tuba
Richard Dworkin: drums
Artist: PHILLIP JOHNSTON
A saxophonist, composer and arranger of both jazz and new music, Phillip has been a significant figure in the underground music scene of New York’s downtown since the beginning of the 1980’s. He has composed extensively for film including Paul Mazursky’s Faithful, Philip Haas’ The Music of Chance and Money Man, Dorris Dörrie’s Paradise and Geld, and, recently, Stolen Life by Peter Rasmussen & Jackie Turnure & Noise by Henry Bean. He has also written for silent film, including Tod Browning’s The Unknown, The George Méliès Project, Teinosuke Kinugasa’s Page Of Madness and F.W. Murnau’s Faust. His theatre composition credits include Measure For Measure, War Of The Roses, The Comedy Of Errors, The Merchant Of Venice and Macbeth for Bell Shakespeare; Young Goodman Brown with Richard Foreman, Venus with Suzan-Lori Parks, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Ruysch and The Falls with Hilary Bell, and Drawn To Death: A Three Panel Opera with Art Spiegelman. Dance credits include Karole Armitage’s The Predators’ Ball and Keely Garfield’s Minor Repairs Necessary for which he won a ‘Bessie’ in 1999.
Throughout, he has maintained a parallel career as a saxophonist, both working with others and leading his own bands. During the 1980’s he led the Microscopic Septet, and in the 1990’s he led Big Trouble and The Transparent Quartet. He has recently toured internationally with with the seven-piece Fast ‘N’ Bulbous: The Captain Beefheart Project, featuring Gary Lucas, for which he arranged and conducted, and the reanimated Microscopic Septet. Phillip’s recordings include Tales From the Cryptic (Winter & Winter) with Guy Klucevsek; Pork Chop Blue Around The Rind, and the recent Waxed Oop (Cuneiform) with Fast ‘N’ Bulbous, and Seven Men in Neckties & Surrealistic Swing (Cuneiform), a four-CD retrospective of his work with the Microscopic Septet, which was followed up recently by Lobster Leaps In, their first new recording in 20 years. He lived most of his adult life in New York City, until 2005 when he relocated to Sydney, Australia with his wife, Australian playwright Hilary Bell, and their two children, where he performs with SNAP, a saxophone quartet, and Phillip Johnston and the Coolerators.
"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, Jan '98
"Fans of the long-gone Microscopic Septet will certainly be familiar with the jaunty tone and delightful ensemble playing of the latest solo outing by former Micro leader, Phillip JohnstonThe product of a charmingly peculiar mind, Normalology fits unsquarely in a playful jazz tradition that includes Monk,Raymond Scott and even a trace of the Crusaders."
- Derk Richardson, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Feb '98
"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.""
- David Lewis, Cadence Magazine, November, 1997