Michael J. West

Michael J.’s Contributions

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02/11/14    Albums

Venezuelan Suite
Edward Simon

Pianist Edward Simon’s new CD isn’t exactly clichéd—there aren’t enough jazz explorations of Venezuela’s music for that—but it nonetheless provokes ennui. Venezuelan Suite , which adapts four of Simon’s country’s various folk-music traditions, uses their...

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02/01/14    Features

Marcus Roberts: "All Kinds of Things"

At 50, the pianist is as resourceful and ambitious as ever

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01/19/14    Albums

Life's a Movie
The Inventions Trio

Squeezing four discrete sections into a 55-minute album is ambitious stuff, even if three of those sections are tributes to other pianist-composers. But with Life’s a Movie , pianist Bill Mays’ Inventions Trio, a quirky chamber group featuring trumpeter...

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01/12/14    Albums

Colors of a Dream
Tom Harrell

Anyone approaching Tom Harrell’s new disc as they would the trumpet virtuoso’s 37 years of straight-ahead recordings will be blindsided. Colors of a Dream is a scintillating, highly enjoyable project but nonetheless a remarkable departure for Harrell. It...

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12/28/13    Albums

The Poet
Marquis Hill

The Poet is rather a misnomer. There’s poetry on the album, but only on the very short opening and closing tracks. Calling it The Composer might have been more on point, since it’s really the superlative tunes of Chicago trumpeter-bandleader Marquis Hill...

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11/12/13    Features

Five Brian Lynch Recordings You Need to Hear

The Best of Brian

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11/10/13    Albums

The Electric Miles Project
Chris Kelsey & What I Say

On The Electric Miles Project , saxophonist Chris Kelsey and his What I Say quintet approach Miles Davis’ fusion work in terms of layers. It’s an unusual tack, but given the methods of construction Davis used, a valid and probably long overdue one. The resultant...

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10/25/13    Albums

The Complete Sun Ship Session
John Coltrane

It stands to reason that almost any box set of an album’s “complete sessions” is primarily for completists. That’s doubly true for one that (a) contains no unreleased tunes, and (b) is vinyl only. The Complete Sun Ship Session , a three-LP collection of...

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10/23/13    Albums

Jazz in the New Harmonic
David Chesky Quintet

Jazz in the New Harmonic is a strange record. Pianist and composer David Chesky, who works in both the jazz and classical genres, combines them in a 21st-century take on the Third Stream concept. He unleashes a killer jazz quintet (trumpeter Jeremy Pelt...

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10/16/13    Albums

Kenny Barron & the Brazilian Knights
Kenny Barron

That pianist Kenny Barron is a lover of Brazilian music is not news. He came up in the ’60s—and with Dizzy Gillespie, for Pete’s sake. Brazilian Knights , featuring Barron and a Brazilian sextet at a 2012 session in Rio das Ostras, is his third full-length...

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10/13/13    Features

Essential Nicole Mitchell

Five great recordings featuring the versatile, visionary flutist-composer

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10/12/13    Features

Nicole Mitchell: West by Midwest

A flutist who embodies the sunny optimism of California and Chicago's bold, creative spirit

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08/07/13    Albums

GismontiPascoal: The Music of Egberto and Hermeto
Hamilton De Holanda & André Mehmari

The mandolin is still rare enough in jazz that the ear’s first instinct is to hear it as another instrument. Hamilton de Holanda’s ax on GismontiPascoal: The Music of Egberto and Hermeto sounds like a classical guitar on the opening title track (one of only...

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07/18/13    Albums

Transylvanian Concert
Lucian Ban/Mat Maneri

Who knew a song called “Harlem Bliss” could be so somber and disturbing? Incorporating lots of blues licks (especially in composer Lucian Ban’s piano turns), as well as motifs from “Body and Soul” and “Lonely Woman,” it’s also built on exceedingly dark harmonies...

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07/15/13    Albums

Oye!!! Live In Puerto Rico
Miguel Zenón & The Rhythm Collective

The deeper alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón goes into Puerto Rico’s musical legacy, the better his own music gets. Zenón’s exploration of his Afro-Caribbean roots has been a staple of his solo career since it began in the early 2000s, though it kicked into...

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06/26/13    Albums

Live Work & Play
Caroline Davis

Caroline Davis’ debut as a leader is her second appearance on record overall, so in that sense the Chicagoan comes out of nowhere. She arrives, however, with total self-confidence. There’s just an edge of coarseness in her alto sax, just enough to add bite...

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About Michael J. West

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Michael J. West has loved jazz since he was a teenager in North Carolina, but it wasn't until moving to the big city--Washington, D.C.--after college that he became a devoted fanatic. In addition to JazzTimes, he covers jazz for the Washington City Paper. His work has also appeared in the Village Voice, TBD, Jazz.com, the Monterey County Weekly and the East Bay Express.

West lives in D.C., near the "jazz district" of U Street, with his wife and daughter.

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