Michael J. West

Michael J.’s Contributions

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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...

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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...

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08/22/15    Features

Remembering Ornette Coleman's Wisdom

Comments from colleagues and disciples

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08/07/15    Albums

Luminosa
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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07/18/15    Albums

Three Times Three
Antonio Sanchez

Though it’d be incorrect to call these two new releases by drummer Antonio Sanchez a followup to his score from last year’s Oscar-winning Birdman , it’s impossible not to consider this new work alongside the film music. That score comprised unaccompanied...

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06/27/15    Overdue Ovation

Overdue Ovation for Jim Snidero

Contractual motivation

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06/25/15    Albums

Jamison
Jamison Ross

The debut album by the winner of the 2012 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition isn’t what jazz fans will expect. Jamison Ross, it turns out, is a singer as well, and on Jamison he’s a singer first. But once the confusion subsides, there remains...

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06/09/15    Albums

Mockroot
Tigran Hamasyan

Tigran Hamasyan’s music exists in its own universe, and on Mockroot that means distancing itself even from the pianist’s eccentric self-described “electro-acoustic Armenian rock.” The Armenian-American’s sixth album holds on to the rock trappings in some...

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05/23/15    Albums

Swing Makes You Happy!
George Gee Swing Orchestra

“Swing music is a living, growing, and evolving art form,” says bandleader George Gee in his liner notes for Swing Makes You Happy! , featuring his 11-piece Swing Orchestra. He could hardly have produced a better example of that sentiment: This album is...

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05/22/15    Albums

The Undying Spirit
E.J. Strickland Quintet

There’s a tendency on drummer-led albums for the listener’s ear to focus on the drums no matter what they’re doing. E.J. Strickland turns that tendency into inevitability on his second album, The Undying Spirit . It opens with an unaccompanied virtuoso solo...

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05/17/15    Features

Rez Abbasi: Defusing Fusion

Giving jazz-rock classics a modern acoustic treatment

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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About Michael J. West

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