Michael J. West

Michael J.’s Contributions

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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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01/07/13    Undertones

Jetway Confidential
Sonic Liberation Front

For all the cunning with which they assemble it, Sonic Liberation Front’s musical patchwork still feels like a mess. But it’s a glorious, enchanting mess. Boasting a range of guests and instruments (especially horns and percussion) so complex it literally...

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12/30/12    Undertones

Wah-Wah
Torben Waldorff

Eschewing his usual saxophone partners, Wah-Wah finds Danish guitarist-composer Torben Waldorff leading an American band (keyboardist Gary Versace, bassist Matt Clohesy, drummer Jon Wikan) that’s long on melody but also on texture and atmosphere. Only the...

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12/07/12    Albums

Means of Deliverance
Bill Laswell

Bill Laswell’s sound on the Warwick Alien—a newly designed fretless acoustic bass guitar—is astonishingly beautiful. Its core is the thick-string timbre of the upright, but rounder and more malleable, ideal for harmonic low-end drones supporting the guitaristic...

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12/02/12    Undertones

Moraga
Carol Robbins

The very presence of a harp, Carol Robbins’ instrument, can cloak jazz in the veneer of new age. On Moraga , it does, and the Windham Hill vibe is amplified by low-key tunes and the presence of Gary Meek’s soprano saxophone and Larry Koonse’s classical guitar...

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11/30/12    Albums

Angelic Warrior
Tia Fuller

Angelic Warrior is a veritable almanac of the alto saxophone in contemporary mainstream jazz. Tia Fuller gives her distinctive sound a full and exhilarating workout, with bop (“Cherokee”), Coltrane-esque modal jams (“Royston Rumble”), Caribbean flavor (“Descend...

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11/25/12    Albums

The Columbia Albums 1971-1975
Weather Report

Weather Report’s first six albums, as Bill Milkowski reflects in the notes for Columbia’s collection thereof, saw the fusion legends move from “an electric avant-garde band that appealed strictly to the cognoscenti” to “a ferocious groove-oriented juggernaut...

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11/22/12    Undertones

Nadje Noordhuis
Nadje Noordhuis

With a few exceptions, trumpeter/flugelhornist Nadje Noordhuis’ debut recording is all soft-colored, European-inspired melodies and gentle rhythms. It’s an extremely muted album, in other words, but that fact doesn’t diminish its power. Noordhuis has a sweet...

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11/16/12    Albums

Organ Monk: Uwo in the Black
Greg Lewis

The arrangements that organist Greg Lewis uses on Organ Monk: Uwo in the Black , his second quartet album of guess-whose music, show little to no deviation from Monk’s. Instead, Lewis expresses his astonishing originality through his aggressive instrumental...

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11/11/12    Features

Dave Douglas' Greenleaf Music Label

Defining success in today's online music biz

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11/10/12    Features

Dave Douglas: Room to Breathe

The trumpeter discusses his quintet music, his prolific output and more

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11/04/12    Overdue Ovation

Allen Vizzutti: Road Warrior

A prolific trumpeter fluent in jazz, classical and more

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10/16/12    Education

Music Apps Roundup

A look at the best music apps for jazz fans and musicians

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09/22/12    Features

The Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival

The Kennedy Center's long-running event continues on the path laid down by its founder, Dr. Billy Taylor

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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