Michael J. West
Michael J.’s Contributions
"Strange Fruit," "We Insist!," "Attica Blues" and more
Orchestral jazz is always a bit of a dicey proposition, teetering on the edge of pretentiousness. And when it’s performed by a “chamber ensemble” comprising 11 pieces, it’s even less promising. But trumpeter Orbert Davis, director of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic...
It’s a universally acknowledged truth that great music never sounds out-of-date, and Count Basie is remarkably evergreen. His “Old Testament” band epitomizes the big-band swing era—the rhythmic, harmonic and melodic devices that made 1930s America dance...
The tuxedoed, sunglasses-clad, cocktail-nursing David Gibson in Inner Agent’s CD-gatefold photo evokes not the James Bond type that the title suggests but the laidback cool of the Rat Pack. That’s not what the trombonist’s postbop music brings to mind, though...
Considering its unconventional frontline of Scott Tixier’s violin and Yvonnick Prene’s harmonica, Cosmic Adventure is surprisingly conventional jazz. The album’s nine tracks are mostly A-B forms, mostly swinging, mostly with lyrical, hummable melodies and...
Some of the vibraphonist's favorites include Jackson, Hampton among others
Anytime, anywhere, the vibraphonist delivers striking chops and soulful musicality
Tenor saxophonist Roxy Coss is a protégé of trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, and on the 10 original compositions that make up Restless Idealism , it shows. Among other things she shares with Pelt (who appears on two tracks) are fondnesses for elaborate linear melodies...
As great as saxophonist David Murray, pianist Geri Allen and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington are separately, it’s truly difficult to remember the last time any of them sounded as good as they all do together on Perfection . The members of the jazz “power trio”...
Between Billy Strayhorn and Woody Shaw, the Indian lotus flower adorning guitarist Mike Moreno’s fifth album has quite the history in jazz. But Moreno’s music therein has more in common with the mythological Greek lotus—when consumed, it evoked a pleasantly...
Taken together, Anthony Braxton’s three new box sets comprise 14 discs and as many hours of music, each set using a different ensemble and taking a different musical approach. But any one of the releases is by itself overwhelming. The shortest, 3 Compositions...
“Typical” and “generic” aren’t synonyms. Pianist Florian Hoefner works to create music that “doesn’t sound like generic jazz.” To be sure, Luminosity , Hoefner’s third album with his quartet, is not generic, with its oblong structures and meters that require...
Duane Eubanks’ trumpet style is hard to pin down. While his tone is instantly recognizable, with a unique balance of brightness and restraint that nods to Clifford Brown, his application of it varies. Indeed, on the fine Live at Maxwell’s , a trio record...
Kamasi, Ravi, Revive Big Band and more
Three great musicians discuss woodshedding
The jazz side of Prince
About Michael J. West
Michael J. West joined the JazzTimes community on Jun 13, 2008