Michael J. West
Michael J.’s Contributions
Historically overshadowed, it's back in the game
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...
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...
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...
At 71, representing the pinnacle of the jazz-piano tradition
A big band project, but not that Duke
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
Life in the third quarter
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...
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...
11/09/14 Overdue Ovation
The trombone's champion
Drummer Otis Brown III, best known as a member of Joe Lovano’s Us Five, percolates with nervous energy on The Thought of You , his debut as a leader. Even on midtempo tunes like “Stages of Thought,” no easing or rests are apparent in his lines, and burners...
Even cerebral musicians need to connect emotionally with their audiences. Tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, who is as cerebral as they come, struggles with this task on Lathe of Heaven . His first album as a leader since 2001’s Dharma Days , Lathe realizes...
Lenny Pickett puts a number of pleasing moments into The Prescription , his first solo record in almost 30 years. It’s the way he assembles them that’s not so pleasing. Pickett, best known as the featured saxophonist and musical director for the Saturday...
The new old school
In the liner notes to Latin Jazz Underground , flutist Mark Weinstein explains that he aims to “show that you could really stretch the boundaries while holding onto the Afro-Cuban core.” He nails it. The album, a collaboration with pianist Aruán Ortiz, explores...
About Michael J. West
Michael J. West joined the JazzTimes community on Jun 13, 2008