Michael J. West

Michael J.’s Contributions

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01/11/16    Albums

Review: David Bowie's "Blackstar"

Days before his death, Bowie released his final statement--backed by a jazz quintet

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01/10/16    Albums

The Legendary Live Tapes 1978-1981
Weather Report

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...

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12/02/15    Albums

In the Moment
Makaya McCraven

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...

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11/24/15    Features

Dennis Chambers: The Return of Rhythm

The master drummer rebuilds and reignites

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11/23/15    Albums

We Are the Drum
Kendrick Scott Oracle

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...

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11/22/15    Albums

A New Kind of Dance
Mike Reed's People Places & Things

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...

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11/13/15    Concerts

Review: The Dominican Republic Jazz Festival

Historically small jazz scene finds Its way, with some growing pains

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10/17/15    Albums

Kwanza
Albert Heath

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...

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10/08/15    Features

Stanley Cowell: Never Too Late

A pianist-composer's late-career renaissance

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09/30/15    Albums

Starfire
Jaga Jazzist

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...

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09/21/15    Albums

This is the Day
Giovanni Guidi Trio

Behind This Is the Day ’s scrim of subtlety, the Giovanni Guidi Trio quietly plays hell with the piano-trio format. Most of the time, drummer Joäo Lobo neither keeps nor accents the beat—he plays free. Bassist Thomas Morgan occasionally plays accents, but...

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08/27/15    Albums

Say When
Steve Davis

What worked for J.J. Johnson will work for Steve Davis—that’s the apparent logic behind Say When , Davis’ competent but ultimately middling tribute to his and all bebop trombonists’ forefather. Davis expresses in the liner notes his desire for the world...

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08/25/15    Albums

In Good Company
George Cables

George Cables’ title refers first to the pianist-composers he covers—John Hicks, Kenny Barron, Ellington and Strayhorn—and second to his trio with bassist Essiet Essiet and drummer Victor Lewis. The album’s a cheery swinger, an exemplar of mainstream piano...

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08/22/15    Features

Remembering Ornette Coleman's Wisdom

Comments from colleagues and disciples

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08/07/15    Albums

Luminosa
Anat Cohen

Anat Cohen has always loved Brazil’s music, and her seventh disc, Luminosa , goes deep down that rabbit hole. The Israeli multireedist’s quartet (keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Daniel Freedman) assays Brazilian standards and Brazilian...

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07/18/15    Albums

Three Times Three
Antonio Sanchez

Though it’d be incorrect to call these two new releases by drummer Antonio Sanchez a followup to his score from last year’s Oscar-winning Birdman , it’s impossible not to consider this new work alongside the film music. That score comprised unaccompanied...

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About Michael J. West

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Michael J. West joined the JazzTimes community on Jun 13, 2008