Michael J. West

Michael J.’s Contributions


05/17/15    Features

Rez Abbasi: Defusing Fusion

Giving jazz-rock classics a modern acoustic treatment


05/15/15    Albums

Coming of Age
Ben Williams

Though he wrote much of his 2011 debut, State of Art , bassist Ben Williams’ new album, Coming of Age , is really his arrival as a composer. Nine of the disc’s 11 tunes are his, and they attempt (and accomplish) some tricky stuff. But he wraps these ideas...


05/12/15    Albums

Trio and Duet
Anthony Braxton

Forty years later, 1974’s Trio and Duet remains one of Anthony Braxton’s best albums. If anything, it’s even more compelling today because of its weight in Braxtonian history. The trio (side one of the original album, and what would eventually become Braxton’s...


04/25/15    Albums

Orphic Machine
Ben Goldberg

With its childlike melody, twinkling vibraphone and repeated lyrics, the opening section of “Reading,” which begins Orphic Machine , clarinetist-composer Ben Goldberg’s album of nonet settings for the poetry of Allen Grossman, is annoyingly precious. That...


04/21/15    Albums

Live at Monterey Jazz Festival
Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Sound Prints

Sound Prints’ co-leaders, saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas, both solo on the band’s debut album, Live at Monterey Jazz Festival . But the real meat of the recording, and of the band, is their interplay: harmony, counterpoint, call-and-response...


04/14/15    Albums

Main Street
Jim Snidero

A determinedly straightahead alto saxophonist, Jim Snidero staffs his Main Street quartet with determinedly adventurous young musicians—and gets them swinging along with him. It’s no surprise to hear that pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist Linda Oh and drummer...


03/27/15    Features

The Trombone: The Most Promising Instrument on the Bandstand?

Historically overshadowed, it's back in the game


03/11/15    Albums

Akua Dixon
Akua Dixon

Akua Dixon made a baffling choice in self-titling her second album, which features the cellist in a string quartet, plus special guests. It’s a declamatory presentation, but what is she declaiming when she solos exactly three times on the entire album? That...


03/04/15    Albums

Children of the Sun
Joe Sample & NDR Bigband

The late pianist Joe Sample’s final work is also easily his most ambitious: an album-length suite exploring the emotional landscape of slaves in the Middle Passage, written for Germany’s 20-plus-piece NDR Bigband. At times the ambition is too much for its...


03/03/15    Albums

Intents and Purposes
Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet

The conceit behind Intents and Purposes is a nifty one: seminal fusion tunes, rendered in the gentler textures of acoustic guitar (Rez Abbasi), vibraphone (Bill Ware), bass (Stephan Crump) and drums (Eric McPherson). Abbasi’s Acoustic Quartet makes its point...


02/19/15    Features

Kenny Barron: Icon-in-Residence

At 71, representing the pinnacle of the jazz-piano tradition


01/26/15    Features

David Bowie and Maria Schneider's Enigmatic Collaboration

A big band project, but not that Duke


12/29/14    Albums

Out Loud
Frank Lowe Quartet

Considering its expansive influence, the Loft-jazz movement receives scant attention among archival releases. That in itself makes the appearance of the double-LP Out Loud a welcome (albeit pricey and limited) one. That it’s by Frank Lowe is all the better...


12/12/14    Overdue Ovation

Overdue Ovation: Ralph Peterson

Life in the third quarter


11/28/14    Albums

The Latin Side of Joe Henderson
Conrad Herwig

At its best, Conrad Herwig’s ongoing “Latin Side” project (which has already covered Trane, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock) reveals much about the omnipresence of the “Spanish tinge” in jazz repertoire. On The Latin Side of Joe Henderson...


11/17/14    Albums

Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars
Louis Armstrong

Even among the collectors and completists for whom it’s intended, a nine-CD box set is not for listening to en masse. It’s best to break it down into constituent segments. In Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars...

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About Michael J. West


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