Michael J. West

Michael J.’s Contributions

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06/05/13    Albums

Aquarius
Nicole Mitchell's Ice Crystals

“Ice crystals” is a good visual metaphor for the sound Nicole Mitchell’s flute and Jason Adasiewicz’s vibes make together. The latter, especially, evokes ice (or glass, thus “crystal”) with a crisp, nimble attack that’s mindful of his instrument’s hard surface...

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05/28/13    Albums

Circular Dreaming
Quest

Listening to the seven covers and two originals that make up Circular Dreaming , Quest’s tribute to Miles Davis’ “second great quintet,” it is impossible not to hear the two bands’ differences. But how much busier pianist Richie Beirach is than Herbie Hancock...

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05/06/13    Albums

Sean Moran Small Elephant Band
Tusk

Most of Tusk sounds like Frank Zappa’s chamber music. It’s got favorite Zappa instruments (guitar, clarinet, vibraphone and drums); atonal, gnarled compositions; and blinding speed and staccato percussion. Sean Moran’s acoustic guitar style even uncannily...

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04/29/13    Albums

Museum Vol. 1
Kevin Harris Project

There’s no suggestion in pianist Kevin Harris’ liners that Museum Vol. 1 is in any way an exercise in minimalism. The soulful postbop record is crowded with repetition, however, certainly in Harris’ otherwise-admirable originals. Vamps, riffs, phrases and...

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04/24/13    Overdue Ovation

Nat Reeves: By the Grace of Jackie Mac

Never a headliner, finally a leader

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04/24/13    Albums

Deep in the Shed: A Blues Suite
Marcus Roberts Nonet

Reinterpreting one’s own album isn’t as odd as it seems; after all, it happens with songs all the time. What is remarkable, however, is listening back to Roberts’ original Deep in the Shed from 1990 and realizing how beholden it is to Ellington. The 2013...

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04/18/13    Features

Dan Tepfer: "One of the Guys We Talk About"

At 30, the classically informed, conceptually inspired pianist is delivering on great promise

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04/17/13    Albums

Late August
Gregg August

The postbop of Four by Six , so named for the two bands (quartet and sextet) that bassist Gregg August leads through his eight original compositions, is as stark as the cover photograph. Its melodies arrive in odd shapes and angles; its rhythms are irregular...

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04/16/13    Albums

Conviction
Kendrick Scott Oracle

If Conviction is an examination of character—including the famous ones of Malcolm X and St. Francis of Assisi—drummer-composer Kendrick Scott’s own personality proves thoughtful and mellow, without sacrificing intensity. The second album by Scott’s quintet...

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04/02/13    Albums

Songs I Like a Lot
John Hollenbeck

It’s easy to hear traces, in the songs drummer-composer John Hollenbeck likes a lot, of his melodic sense and cinematic structuring. His grasp of atmosphere and texture, though, is his own. That much is clear once he’s given command of the 16-piece Frankfurt...

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03/19/13    Features

Enrico Rava and Rome's PM Jazz Lab Honor Michael Jackson

Band in the mirror: Jazz musicians and the King of Pop

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03/17/13    Albums

The Messenger
Kevin Eubanks

Some elements of The Messenger just shouldn’t work: the too-cute grumble/ scat on “Led Boots” and the too-delicate guitar on “The Gloaming” all but beg to tank. They don’t. Instead, the sheer force of guitarist and former Tonight Show band director Kevin...

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02/13/13    Overdue Ovation

Mike Longo: Keeping the Bebop Faith

From his work with Dizzy through his teaching today, the picture of dedication

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01/20/13    Albums

La Peur du Vide
Bill McHenry

La Peur Du Vide sits uneasily between straight-ahead and free jazz, occasionally tipping to one side or the other. It’s familiar ground for tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry—even more so for his quartet (pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Andrew...

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01/17/13    Albums

Stefon Harris/David Sánchez/Christian Scott
Ninety Miles Live at Cubadisco

Ninety Miles , the Afro-Cuban recording by vibraphonist Stefon Harris, saxophonist David Sánchez and trumpeter Christian Scott, was among 2011’s best releases; Cubadisco , its new live follow-up, includes six of the nine compositions performed on the studio...

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01/08/13    Albums

Rhythm Sessions
Lee Ritenour

Fusion, lest we forget, spawned both new age and smooth jazz. Guitarist Lee Ritenour’s Rhythm Sessions is proof. Alongside its ample fusion credentials (including two dozen accomplished players, among them Marcus Miller and Stanley Clarke), it’s loaded with...

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About Michael J. West

Mjw_thumb

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