Michael J. West

Michael J.’s Contributions


09/22/14    Albums

Lenny Pickett With UMO Jazz Orchestra
The Prescription

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...


09/15/14    Features

Bria Skonberg: Giving Trad-Jazz a Modern Edge

The new old school


09/05/14    Albums

Latin Jazz Underground
Mark Weinstein

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...


08/11/14    Overdue Ovation

Overdue Ovation: Steve Cardenas

Always himself, in any context


08/11/14    Albums

Trios Live
Joshua Redman

Not surprisingly, Sonny Rollins is an immediate presence on tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman’s Trios Live . The album opens with “Mack the Knife,” which Rollins memorably performed (as “Moritat”) on his signature 1956 recording, Saxophone Colossus . Then...


08/07/14    Features

Meet Anthony Pirog, a Postmodern Guitar Hero in the Making

"A mix of...all this information"


07/07/14    Overdue Ovation

Overdue Ovation: Craig Handy

Now's the time


05/15/14    Albums

Jazz & the Philharmonic
Various Artists

The best parts of the live Jazz & the Philharmonic are the ones it downplays. It’s being sold as a CD, but the included DVD is where the action is. The Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, the University of Miami’s “crossover” symphonic ensemble (with strings...


05/11/14    Features

Eric Revis: Sound & Scope

Communicating confidence


05/04/14    Albums

Divine Travels
James Brandon Lewis

Quite tonal (and tuneful), Divine Travels is nonetheless free jazz. It’s the major-label debut of tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis, quite a departure from the R&B earthiness of 2011’s self-released Moments . Two masters of the avant-garde, bassist William...


04/26/14    Albums

Avishai Cohen

Duende is a brief (34 minutes) but lovely collection of straightahead duets for piano and bass. One might expect the former instrument to dominate that setting, but it’s no accident that bassist Avishai Cohen gets main billing while pianist Nitai Hershkovits...


04/14/14    Albums

the imagined savior is far easier to paint
Ambrose Akinmusire

Self-seriousness lurks in the piano and trumpet delicacies that begin the imagined savior is far easier to paint ; all that’s missing is ECM’s famous five-second silence. By album’s end, though, it has developed into an early candidate for the best of 2014...


04/10/14    Albums

Rising Son
Takuya Kuroda

Japanese trumpeter Takuya Kuroda currently works with singer José James, and Rising Son shares James’ controversial penchant for genre bending. (James also produced the album, Kuroda’s first for Blue Note and fourth overall, and performs on one track.) It’s...


03/05/14    Albums

New Day
Harold Lopez-Nussa

Best known for his role in the Latin-jazz supergroup Ninety Miles, Harold López-Nussa has a touch heavily indebted to Brad Mehldau’s, but with a rhythmic dance of his own. It’s the latter that’s in focus on the Havana pianist’s lovely New Day . Despite beautiful...


02/19/14    Albums

No End
Keith Jarrett

No End was recorded in 1986, but it sounds even older. The project features piano icon Keith Jarrett solo, though not on solo piano. Instead, he plays a 20-part “suite,” multitracking himself on electric guitar, Fender bass, drums, tabla and various percussion—piano...


02/11/14    Albums

Venezuelan Suite
Edward Simon

Pianist Edward Simon’s new CD isn’t exactly clichéd—there aren’t enough jazz explorations of Venezuela’s music for that—but it nonetheless provokes ennui. Venezuelan Suite , which adapts four of Simon’s country’s various folk-music traditions, uses their...

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About Michael J. West


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