The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered is a 2004 Gammon Records two-disc set. The first disc features covers of Daniel Johnston songs by a variety of different artists. The second disc features the original versions of these eighteen songs, as well as "Rock This Town", a previously unreleased Johnston track.
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.
The Unknown is saxophonist/composer Phillip Johnston's soundtrack to the 1927 silent film of the same name. As with much of Johnston's other work, the music here is a witty, often changing mix of sounds and styles from various eras. Appropriately, there is an emphasis on various film music archetypes, although not just from the silent film era, but from more modern times, too. The tracks weave in and out of frantic, polka-driven chase-scene themes, genteel waltzes, nostalgic parlor-room piano sections, sultry noir-jazz passages, and more. Johnston also adds in more modern elements, from dissonant horn harmonies and free-leaning improvisation to a few rock-oriented rhythms and even some electronic/synthesizer touches.
Really, why should this music be called avant-garde? Should a band as gloriously fun as Phillip Johnston's Big Trouble really be given a stylistic label equated by many with either difficult art music or deadly serious free jazz? Yes, in the '90s jazz world, the enormously engaging saxophonist/composer and his band of accomplished musical pranksters definitely fell on the avant side of things, but that was more a reflection of the sorry state of the mainstream, in comparison to which, of course, any era's avant-garde is defined. In a rational world, Johnston's first post-Microscopic Septet project would be seen as appealing to a very broad audience segment – say, those with ears on the sides of their heads.