A nearly brassless little big band and a guitarless R&B group all at the same time, the Microscopic Septet was to the 1980s New York Downtown scene something of what the Art Ensemble of Chicago was to its own home town. Both bands were steeped in and respectful of the jazz tradition, but both deconstructed, recalibrated, juggled and played around with its component parts to create affectionate, often witty new amalgams of the old—and intimations of the future. The two-disc Seven Men In Neckties collects the Micros' immortal, mind-expanding but long unavailable, first two albums—Take The Z Train (Press Records, 1983) and the live Let's Flip! (Osmosis Records, 1985)—along with previously unissued, contemporaneous material.
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. Although drummer Shelly Manne was closely associated with the Contemporary label for many years, he also recorded for other companies after Contemporary slowed down operations. This particular Koch CD reissues a set that was cut for Atlantic. The 1966 version of Shelly Manne's Men (altoist Frank Strozier, trumpeter Conte Candoli, pianist Russ Freeman, and bassist Monty Budwig) played in a similar style to his 1950s groups. Only Strozier hints (and only slightly in spots) at the avant-garde explorations then going on elsewhere. The quintet performs three group originals, an obscurity, "The Breeze and I," and "Margie" (which was arranged by Jimmy Rowles). Fine hard bop music.