Michael J. West

Michael J.’s Contributions


04/22/16    Albums

Otis Was a Polar Bear
Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom

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...


04/08/16    Albums

Standing Tall
Ken Fowser

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...


04/05/16    Chops

Chops: High & Low

Nicki Parrott on simultaneous vocal/bass performance


03/25/16    Albums

The Complete Savoy and Dial Studio Recordings (1944-1948)
Charlie Parker

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...


03/16/16    Albums

Honor Thy Fathers
Laurence Hobgood Trio

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...


01/11/16    Albums

Review: David Bowie's "Blackstar"

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


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...


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...


11/24/15    Features

Dennis Chambers: The Return of Rhythm

The master drummer rebuilds and reignites


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...


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...


11/13/15    Concerts

Review: The Dominican Republic Jazz Festival

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


10/17/15    Albums

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...


10/08/15    Features

Stanley Cowell: Never Too Late

A pianist-composer's late-career renaissance


09/30/15    Albums

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...


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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About Michael J. West


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