Michael J. West
Michael J.’s Contributions
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...
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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...
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...
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...
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...
At 50, the pianist is as resourceful and ambitious as ever
About Michael J. West
Michael J. West joined the JazzTimes community on Jun 13, 2008