Michael J. West

Michael J.’s Contributions


03/27/15    Features

The Trombone: The Most Promising Instrument on the Bandstand?

Historically overshadowed, it's back in the game


03/11/15    Albums

Akua Dixon
Akua Dixon

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...


03/04/15    Albums

Children of the Sun
Joe Sample & NDR Bigband

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...


03/03/15    Albums

Intents and Purposes
Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet

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...


02/19/15    Features

Kenny Barron: Icon-in-Residence

At 71, representing the pinnacle of the jazz-piano tradition


01/26/15    Features

David Bowie and Maria Schneider's Enigmatic Collaboration

A big band project, but not that Duke


12/29/14    Albums

Out Loud
Frank Lowe Quartet

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

Overdue Ovation: Ralph Peterson

Life in the third quarter


11/28/14    Albums

The Latin Side of Joe Henderson
Conrad Herwig

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...


11/17/14    Albums

Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars
Louis Armstrong

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

Overdue Ovation: Frank Lacy

The trombone's champion


11/08/14    Albums

The Thought of You
Otis Brown III

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...


10/15/14    Albums

Lathe of Heaven
Mark Turner

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...


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...

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About Michael J. West


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