Guitarist Dave “Fuze” Fiuczynski has been knocking down the walls between jazz and microtonal music for over a decade now. But on Mikrojazz, the former Screaming Headless Torsos honcho, now the director of the Planet MicroJam Institute at Berklee, has found some noteworthy collaborators who take this experimental genre to another level—folks like legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette, fretless bassist Matthew Garrison and alto saxophonist and fellow microtonal pioneer Philipp Gerschlauer.
“Microtones” are so-named because they are smaller than a semitone, the typical interval in the 12-note octave common to most Western music. By contrast, Gerschlauer has figured out how to parse an octave into 128 notes on the alto saxophone, and tuned the keyboards used by the band’s fifth member, Giorgi Mikadze, for microtone flexibility. For lay listeners, the music of Mikrojazz lands with a different resonance, akin to a sitar or harpsichord. It is often piquant and on the cusp between sounding calm and spooky. There is a reason many of the song titles seem appropriate for a Tim Burton film—“Lullaby Nightmare,” “Hangover” and “Zirkus Macabre.”