Michael J. West

Michael J.’s Contributions

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04/26/14    Albums

Duende
Avishai Cohen

Duende is a brief (34 minutes) but lovely collection of straightahead duets for piano and bass. One might expect the former instrument to dominate that setting, but it’s no accident that bassist Avishai Cohen gets main billing while pianist Nitai Hershkovits...

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04/14/14    Albums

the imagined savior is far easier to paint
Ambrose Akinmusire

Self-seriousness lurks in the piano and trumpet delicacies that begin the imagined savior is far easier to paint ; all that’s missing is ECM’s famous five-second silence. By album’s end, though, it has developed into an early candidate for the best of 2014...

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04/10/14    Albums

Rising Son
Takuya Kuroda

Japanese trumpeter Takuya Kuroda currently works with singer José James, and Rising Son shares James’ controversial penchant for genre bending. (James also produced the album, Kuroda’s first for Blue Note and fourth overall, and performs on one track.) It’s...

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03/05/14    Albums

New Day
Harold Lopez-Nussa

Best known for his role in the Latin-jazz supergroup Ninety Miles, Harold López-Nussa has a touch heavily indebted to Brad Mehldau’s, but with a rhythmic dance of his own. It’s the latter that’s in focus on the Havana pianist’s lovely New Day . Despite beautiful...

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02/19/14    Albums

No End
Keith Jarrett

No End was recorded in 1986, but it sounds even older. The project features piano icon Keith Jarrett solo, though not on solo piano. Instead, he plays a 20-part “suite,” multitracking himself on electric guitar, Fender bass, drums, tabla and various percussion—piano...

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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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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