There is plenty of swing to this sax-led band, which majors on the blues for this (virtually) instrumental release.
Label: Cuneiform Records
Time: 13 tracks / 62 mins
This band has been around so long that they seem content kicking out pretension and just doing what they do. Their style is fairly old-school, even echoing jazz from the Glen Miller days at times, as well as playing riffs that could comfortably introduce guests to a talk show.
There is a simplicity and directness about their approach, never cluttering the speakers (“When it’s Getting Dark,” which would work as a theme tune to a Peter Sellers movie, starts as a twelve bar with punctuating blasts). The collection is sub-titled “The Micros Play the Blues” – and you don’t get much simpler than that.
The seven-piece band comprises four saxes, piano, bass and drums. Co-founder Joel Forrester says that, regarding the blues, their approach is, “to the content, whole hearted; to the form, unfaithful.”
So there is a fair range of styles and tempos on the disc, considering its title. There are tracks like “PJ in the 60s” and “Quizzical,” which have a fair bit of swing, showing the band’s prime directive, “It’s gotta swing, whether it’s Latin, R&B or straight ahead blowing. That’s the foundation of what we do.”
At the other end of the tempo spectrum, they can offer some lovely slow blues, such as “Dark Blue,” with its piano solo, and “Simple-Minded Blues.”
For the carol “Silent Night,” they play the main tune in as minor a key as you can get (which doesn’t work for me) and then proceed to put some fine solos into it.
“Migraine Blues (for Wendlyn Alter)” shows their sense of fun; I’m sure that the baritone sax solo is trying to replicate a bluebottle buzzing around - or dying. They are fine improvisors with occasional loose moments.
As it’s only their fourth new release in 25 years (by my calculations) I suspect that they are happiest just gigging, and recording is an inconvenience that they put off; and when this is how you work, the music is likely to be just for fun – nothing too deep, but a record of what they have been up to.