Michael J. West
Michael J.’s Contributions
Doubt not that As the Sea is a demanding recording. If you do, the eight and a half minutes “Part 1” takes to get anywhere will dispel you of that doubt quickly. There are pleasures to be found on trombonist Samuel Blaser’s four-part work; the finding is...
Electric or acoustic, the trumpeter’s artistic vision is steadfast
“Ice crystals” is a good visual metaphor for the sound Nicole Mitchell’s flute and Jason Adasiewicz’s vibes make together. The latter, especially, evokes ice (or glass, thus “crystal”) with a crisp, nimble attack that’s mindful of his instrument’s hard surface...
Listening to the seven covers and two originals that make up Circular Dreaming , Quest’s tribute to Miles Davis’ “second great quintet,” it is impossible not to hear the two bands’ differences. But how much busier pianist Richie Beirach is than Herbie Hancock...
Most of Tusk sounds like Frank Zappa’s chamber music. It’s got favorite Zappa instruments (guitar, clarinet, vibraphone and drums); atonal, gnarled compositions; and blinding speed and staccato percussion. Sean Moran’s acoustic guitar style even uncannily...
There’s no suggestion in pianist Kevin Harris’ liners that Museum Vol. 1 is in any way an exercise in minimalism. The soulful postbop record is crowded with repetition, however, certainly in Harris’ otherwise-admirable originals. Vamps, riffs, phrases and...
04/24/13 Overdue Ovation
Never a headliner, finally a leader
Reinterpreting one’s own album isn’t as odd as it seems; after all, it happens with songs all the time. What is remarkable, however, is listening back to Roberts’ original Deep in the Shed from 1990 and realizing how beholden it is to Ellington. The 2013...
At 30, the classically informed, conceptually inspired pianist is delivering on great promise
The postbop of Four by Six , so named for the two bands (quartet and sextet) that bassist Gregg August leads through his eight original compositions, is as stark as the cover photograph. Its melodies arrive in odd shapes and angles; its rhythms are irregular...
If Conviction is an examination of character—including the famous ones of Malcolm X and St. Francis of Assisi—drummer-composer Kendrick Scott’s own personality proves thoughtful and mellow, without sacrificing intensity. The second album by Scott’s quintet...
It’s easy to hear traces, in the songs drummer-composer John Hollenbeck likes a lot, of his melodic sense and cinematic structuring. His grasp of atmosphere and texture, though, is his own. That much is clear once he’s given command of the 16-piece Frankfurt...
Band in the mirror: Jazz musicians and the King of Pop
Some elements of The Messenger just shouldn’t work: the too-cute grumble/ scat on “Led Boots” and the too-delicate guitar on “The Gloaming” all but beg to tank. They don’t. Instead, the sheer force of guitarist and former Tonight Show band director Kevin...
02/13/13 Overdue Ovation
From his work with Dizzy through his teaching today, the picture of dedication
La Peur Du Vide sits uneasily between straight-ahead and free jazz, occasionally tipping to one side or the other. It’s familiar ground for tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry—even more so for his quartet (pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Andrew...
About Michael J. West
Michael J. West has loved jazz since he was a teenager in North Carolina, but it wasn't until moving to the big city--Washington, D.C.--after college that he became a devoted fanatic. In addition to JazzTimes, he covers jazz for the Washington City Paper. His work has also appeared in the Village Voice, TBD, Jazz.com, the Monterey County Weekly and the East Bay Express. West lives in D.C., near the "jazz district" of U Street, with his wife and daughter.
Michael J. West has loved jazz since he was a teenager in North Carolina, but it wasn't until moving to the big city--Washington, D.C.--after college that he became a devoted fanatic. In addition to JazzTimes, he covers jazz for the Washington City Paper. His work has also appeared in the Village Voice, TBD, Jazz.com, the Monterey County Weekly and the East Bay Express.
West lives in D.C., near the "jazz district" of U Street, with his wife and daughter.
Michael J. West joined the JazzTimes community on Jun 13, 2008