Michael J. West

Michael J.’s Contributions


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...


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...


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...


08/22/15    Features

Remembering Ornette Coleman's Wisdom

Comments from colleagues and disciples


08/07/15    Albums

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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About Michael J. West


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