Active for a dozen years, the Microscopic Septet were widely recognized as "New York's Most Famous Unknown Band." The group started with a basic reeds-and-rhythm texture (soprano, alto, tenor and baritone sax, piano, bass and drums) that was sonically similar to the sound of the Swing Era. However, they employed these textures to address a widely eclectic range of styles, from free-form music to R&B, rhumbas and ragtime. The result was a brilliant blend of fresh-sounding orchestration and inspired soloing. Beloved in New York, where they generally drew capacity crowds, "The Micros" were one of the most celebrated of the many cutting-edge units associated with experimental music's best-known venue, the Knitting Factory, during the peak years of the "Downtown" music movement in the mid 1980s onward. This beautifully packaged and annotated set includes new cover artwork by Pulitzer-prize winning illustrator Art Spiegelman, new notes by leader Phillip Johnston, lots of great photographs and newly remastered versions of the first two albums by the band: "Take The Z Train" and "Let's Flip!", as well as quite a lot of never-before released material, including the well-known theme to the NPR show Fresh Air. The majority of this set has never appeared on CD and all of it has been unavailable for a number of years.
"A truly distinctive sound that pumps Basie boogies, zestfully shifts from tangoed unison to Dixieland discordance with Mingus precision and sax solos that reach Eric Dolphy free and Earl Bostic blue within the same tune; this is one band that can afford to be seriously original and share a playful humor"
- Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide
"Posterity is going to remember the Microscopic Septet as one of the best bands of the 1980s."
– The Philadelphia Inquirer
“...at once capriciously whimsical and deadly serious.”
– New York Sun