Michael J. West
Michael J.’s Contributions
The jazz side of Prince
The cutesy title of Otis Was a Polar Bear , the third album by drummer-composer Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom sextet, is not an anomaly. Inspired by the birth of Miller’s first child, the album exudes preciousness throughout. It seems to want to capture...
It’s been quite a while since a tenor saxophonist arrived who’s learned the lessons of Lester Young as fully as Ken Fowser has. His compositions are honed to their essence; his solos combine fresh lyricism and firm pocket. But what shines brightest (and...
Nicki Parrott on simultaneous vocal/bass performance
Anyone without at least a casual knowledge of Charlie Parker’s Savoy and Dial recordings is probably not reading JazzTimes . They are the jazz equivalent of the New Testament, the founding texts of post-World War II jazz and the basis for everything—from...
It’s easy to hear similarities between Laurence Hobgood’s piano and that of Brad Mehldau, who shares primary influences (Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans). But Hobgood, known for his years as Kurt Elling’s musical director, differentiates himself via another...
Days before his death, Bowie released his final statement--backed by a jazz quintet
It’s no great insight to suggest that Weather Report was primarily a studio band. The legendary fusion ensemble was too reliant on electronic instruments and innovative production techniques to quite come off on the stage, even as they attained arena-rock...
One of the year’s most mesmerizing releases, there’s a great deal happening on drummer Makaya McCraven’s In the Moment . Its 19 tracks come from his residency at the Chicago club the Bedford. All but three of them are under five minutes long (nine are under...
The master drummer rebuilds and reignites
We Are the Drum would be worth its sticker price just for Lizz Wright sigh-singing the beautiful, melodically off-kilter ballad “This Song in Me.” But the third album by drummer Kendrick Scott’s quintet Oracle has 10 more lovely tracks, each built with a...
Like Ornette Coleman, whom drummer-composer Mike Reed eulogizes in his liner notes, People Places & Things has always staked out a soulful, melodic side of experimental jazz. But it’s never been quite as soulful or melodic as it is on A New Kind of Dance...
Historically small jazz scene finds Its way, with some growing pains
A decade before the Marsalises triggered a bebop revival, seminal producer Don Schlitten was giving beboppers a recording outlet with Xanadu Records. A veteran jazz record producer who’d worked for RCA, Prestige and Muse, among many other labels, Schlitten...
A pianist-composer's late-career renaissance
If Return to Forever in their chopsiest, synth-heaviest incarnation had continued evolving into the age of electronic dance music, they’d sound much like Norway’s Jaga Jazzist. Even their newest album’s title, Starfire , suggests RTF and their ilk. But on...
About Michael J. West
Michael J. West joined the JazzTimes community on Jun 13, 2008