Michael J. West
Michael J.’s Contributions
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...
08/11/14 Overdue Ovation
Always himself, in any context
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...
"A mix of...all this information"
07/07/14 Overdue Ovation
Now's the time
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
About Michael J. West
Michael J. West joined the JazzTimes community on Jun 13, 2008