Forrester, Joel / Phillip Johnston-Live at The Hillside Club
Pianist Joel and soprano saxist Phillip have been friends and musical compatriots for over 35 years! The more I become familiar with his work, the more I become convinced that Joel is one of those guys like Dick Hyman who can encompass the entire history of jazz in his playing, but not just the history - also the future. And Phillip is an understated master of the soprano. This is a totally charming and intimate set which bears obvious resemblances to the Microscopic Septet's work (they are the co-leaders of that august ensemble) but also is very different as well. If you're a fan, this is hugely recommended!
"In November of 2010, Joel Forrester and Phillip Johnston embarked on a short tour of the West Coast to promote the Microscopic Septet's CD Friday The 13th: The Micros Play Monk. They did radio interviews, and played gigs as a duo, as they had for years, and as part of the promotion of the record played Monk tunes. They really didn't need an excuse, as they had been playing Monk tunes since they first began playing together in the early 70s. Nov 26th 2010 was a special night at The Hillside Club, in Berkeley, California. Despite almost missing the gig after being trapped in San Francisco in a street rally by Critical Mass, they arrived just a little late, and, leapt on stage and began playing. Fortunately the evening was recorded by the artistic director, Bruce Koball (whose day job happens to be as a recording engineer), because it turned out to be a good one. Joel Forrester and Phillip Johnston met in 1974 on East Tenth Street in New York City’s East Village when Joel wandered into Phillip’s apartment, after hearing him practicing Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” from the street. Since that time they have played in trios, quartets, septets, and most notoriously in The Microscopic Septet, which they co-lead. But during the past 35 years they have always continued to play as a duo. This is the first time that what they have done in piano bars and casual sit-in sessions has been documented on record. In a mixed program of Forrester and Monk tunes and a couple of solos, they express with spontaneity and humor the telepathy that comes of playing together off and on for the past 35 years."