Jack West

 
 

Press/Reviews

Sources listed

"Astounding rhythmic dexterity and unorthodox percussive technique...unusual time signatures and odd rhythms...Jack West never has to worry about being mistaken for another guitarist" - San Jose Mercury News

 

"[Big Ideas is] a remarkable outing of cool curves, gently sloping musical parabolas, and wondorous bends in compositional structure. With rhythm at the fore West offers unusual sound colors, fluid slide work, and percussive attack" - Down Beat

  

"Stunning...one of the more interesting releases of the new year" - JazzWest

 

"Jack West is not only a fine musician, but he has an original approach and sounds like no one else. To my mind, that is one of the most important qualities that a musician can possess." - Lee Townsend

 

"Jack West negotiates surprising twists and turns and attains boggling musical heights...remarkable." - SF Bay Guardian

 

"A whole new sub-genre of jazz" - National Public Radio, Perspectives in Jazz

 

"Hauntingly beautiful" - East Bay Express
"The interplay [between West and marimbist Joel Davel] is the kind of thing that makes listeners go gaga!" - SF Weekly

 

"Curvature explores an original, rhythmically astute amalgam of blues, jazz, funk, and folk. Although complex in terms of time signatures and improvisations, Curvature's music is immediately accessible, owing to West's beguiling melodic sensibility and his absorbing percussive attack." - SF Bay Guardian

 

"Exploring uncharted territory...uncannily familiar and yet completely fresh" - Andrew Gilbert, Jazz Critic

 

"Organically induced homespun themes...subtle intimacy along with pumping beats and atmospheric propositions...enticing harmonic relationships...the guitarist makes every note count. The artist's memorable compositions and glimmering technique bespeaks a fertile imagination. Recommended!" - AllAboutJazz.com

 

"Obsessed with rhythm...[West] pushes his guitar techniques to the limit" - Metro Santa Cruz

 

"A restlessly creative musician...dazzling combination of bluesy slide work, finger picking, and unorthodox percussive techniques" - Jazz Perspectives, Reese Erlich

 

"Subtle, sensuous, accomplished, and mature. West wants and gets a group sound/identity. The music is well-contructed and smartly played. If you like percussive music that does not skimp on melody, check out Jack West & Curvature." - Cadence Magazine

 

"This tune ["Something About the Dream"] is taking me to another place..." - Chris Cortez, KCSM, Jazz 91.1 FM

 

"Rooted in jazz and blues...it's also highly accessible...extremely melodic and harmonically in..." - Oakland Tribune

 

"Curvature [is] a band with a distinctive sound that flows from it's unusual instrumentation...[West has] managed to find musicians endowed with a sense of syncopation as articulate as his own." - Contra Costa Times

 

"The full house at Yoshi's last Monday night [1/15/01] ventured out to hear West's idiosyncratic approach to composition and improvisation studious melodic and harmonic complexity, bouyed by infectious rhythmic verve." - Express

 

"In simple words, it [Big Ideas] is a great album!" - WartaJazz, Indonesia

 

"Excellent production values and a virtuosic approach to original acoustic jazz ... Jack West & Curvature create a groove and a forum for improvisation rarely found in acoustic music...Winner of the 2000 Homegrown CD Award " - Acoustic Guitar Magazine

 

"Gorgeous, tightly structured compositions built on shifting rhythmic patterns ... extraordinary." - East Bay Express

 

"Brilliant original compositions...breathtaking." - Contra Costa Times

 

"That deceptively simple phrase 'progressive acoustic jazz' belies the rich complexity of composition, technique and improvisation that West and his cohorts in Curvature bring to the stage. West brings together elements of folk, blues and jazz with a heavy emphasis on melody and percussive guitar technique. The result is vibrant, organic sounding jazz that...sounds like something never heard before...nothing short of astounding." - Oakland Tribune

 

"A fertile blend of acoustic blues, progressive jazz, and an international folk music feel, Curvature's music bristles with instrumental virtuosity and a freewheeling improvisational spirit." - SF Bay Guardian

 

"Original, consistently recognizable sound...tight arrangements, musical use of odd-time signatures and polyrhythms, and engaging, intricate melodies..." - Electronic Musician 

Amazon.com

Another solid release from the 8-string jazz guitarist from the Bay Area. No, the other one. In fact, Jack West sounds nothing like Charlie Hunter, although one needs nowhere near six degrees to connect them. For starters, West prefers an acoustic version of an 8-string fanned-fret guitar. For another, he plays a lot of slide, which is a rarity for a jazz guitarist. In fact, he doesn't favor flashy leads at all. Mostly, he is interested in the odd textures that he can create, and how the 8-string slide plays off of his accompanists. That's right-- a jazz guitarist with minimal need to hog the spotlight. To make matters stranger, he shares the lead here with pedal steel guitarist David Phillips, whose credits include working with, yup, Charlie Hunter. The combination of West's mutant acoustic slide and Phillips' Buddy Emmons-influenced pedal steel, along with creative percussion and marimba, lead to an album that would be strange enough just given the array of instruments. Then there are the rhythms, which occasionally border on some real funk. That's a weird combination, and it risks coming across like a novelty. It doesn't. Instead, West's oddness and propensity to surround himself with real virtuosos (which on other albums include people like Dean Magraw, or another Charlie Hunter connection-- Scott Amendola) result in an album that sits comfortably on the fringes of modern jazz without any of the pretentious trappings of those who are more interested in math than groove.

Further listening: Erik Friedlander,"Bonebridge," the first two albums by Doug Wamble, Bill Frisell's folkier albums like "Nashville."
on January 14, 2009
Totally original, absolutely smoking, virtuosic ensemble playing. Beyond jazz, this music is fresh, dynamic with heavy groves and odd-time signatures. Soulful 8-string acoustic guitar with pedal steel. Highly recommended!

Amazon.com

4.0 out of 5 starsDon't try to classify it-- just listen

Those who make the mistake of trying to classify Jack West & Curvature tend to classify them as acoustic jazz, but that label does not do justice to the music. This album shares the improvisational roots of jazz, but the sound draws equally on folk music and the same kind of odd experimentalism that motivates musicians like Steve Tibbetts. In fact, there is a Tibbetts connection here. This album combines the 8-string acoustic guitar of Jack West with the six-string acoustic wizardry of Dean Magraw, and Tibbetts played on one of Magraw's albums. Also, both Tibbetts and Magraw regularly employ Marc Anderson for percussion. The marimba on this album also gives it an international Tibbetts-type flavor (but without the new agey nonsense that frequently afflicts "world" music). If you like Dean Magraw and the less "out-there" recordings of Steve Tibbetts (like Big Map Idea), you will like this album. What sets it apart from Magraw and Tibbetts, though, is the otherworldly approach West takes to slide. He relies heavily on a slide, but his playing is largely divorced from blues or country. It is somewhat difficult to describe, but once you hear it, you will be able to recognize it instantly from then on. This is adventurous music without any of the off-putting pretense or dissonance that frequently define adventurous music.

 

The Grape Pit

Laid back Northern California sunshine groovin'....


Now here's a totally unique little band from the the Bay Area. The blend jazz, blues, folk, Afro-pop with a little funk thrown in for good measure. If you dig some of Frisell's more recent work or acoustic Bela Fleck, but with a sunny groove with a few odd quirks in the mix, this could be up your alley. Give it a chance. It really grew on me and live these guys are really outstanding. The leader Jack West plays a custom 8 string acoustic guitar. What's remarkable is that at times he's playing bass parts, slide guitar and fingerpicking all at the same time. The band also employs the marimba lumina, a 14 string pedal steel guitar, drums and some percussion. This should be heard for its distinctly original concept.  

Indie-music.com


Artist: Jack West & Curvature

CD: Big Ideas

Home: Oakland, California

Style: Acoustic Jazz

Quote: "With the extra two strings, a marimba, cello and bass, and drums, Jack West and Curvature is definitely one of the top West Coast jazz bands today. The East Bay Express called him "extraordinary," and The Oakland Tribune said his music was "nothing short of astounding."

Intro/general thoughts: Eight strings?! I thought guitars only had six strings, or if you were Leo Kottke, twelve strings. Now here comes Jack "I Have Two More Strings Than You" West and his band Curvature with West's fifth CD, "Big Ideas." 

So what do those extra two strings bring? I have no idea, because I'm too busy grooving to the music. West is a finger picking guitarist (like the aforementioned Kottke) who -- along with his trio of sidemen (including Turtle Island String Quartet cellist Mark Summer) -- has created some great acoustic jazz. 
With the extra two strings, a marimba, cello and bass, and drums, Jack West and Curvature is definitely one of the top West Coast jazz bands today. The East Bay Express called him "extraordinary," and The Oakland Tribune said his music was "nothing short of astounding." All I can do is sit and stare at my stereo, mouth agape, at the wondrous sounds coming out of my speakers. The music is pure, undistilled, unadulterated jazz. This is what acoustic jazz is supposed to sound like. 

Type of Music: Acoustic Jazz 

Hometown: Oakland, California 

Notable: The album was produced by jazz producer Lee Townsend, who's had a hand in producing some of Charlie Hunter's, Bill Frisell's, and Pat Metheny's albums. 

Highs: Although it was a tough decision, I would have to say "Something About the Dream" was my favorite track on the album. Reminiscent of the jazz group Shadowfax, "Dream" is a bass driven song showcasing Mark Summer, with everyone else backing him up. 

Lows: Only an idiot would find something to nitpick on this album. It's perfect, it's wonderful, it's superb, it's. . . okay, I'm an idiot. I didn't like the 33 second intro to the album. There, are you happy?! I found SOMETHING on this album not to like. But the other 40 minutes were astounding. I honestly can't find a song I liked less than any of the others, or anything to complain about. That to me is the sign of a truly great album. 

Fans: If you like The Mike Valeras Group, Walter Duda, or Vincent Varvel (all reviewed right here on Indie-Music.com), you'll love Jack West & Curvature. 

Foes: If you think guitars have to scream and wail, that marimbas are used only as cartoon skeleton sound effects, or that eight-stringed guitars are an abomination of nature, then you won't like these guys. 

Summary: In some ways, it's a shame, and in other ways, it's a good thing, that jazz is only heard on select stations around the country. It's a shame, because more people can't experience Jack West & Curvature the same way they experience the big names in music today. But it's a good thing too, because it leaves them alone to create music for music's sake, rather than creating music for a record label's whims. As long as commercialism stays out of Curvature's way, they'll be one of the top jazz bands in the country.

SF Weekly

Hear This 

A self-professed guitar geek, Jack West likes to put all the notes in the right places. His clean, melodic riffs and savvy leads convey a clear sense of purpose that's ripe for a feature in Acoustic Guitar magazine -- a fate which may not be far off, considering how the respected boutique publication recently awarded West's fourth album, As We Know It, top honors in its self-released CD competition.

Like former Bay Area guitarist Charlie Hunter, West plays a custom-made eight-string with which he adds rich chords and bass lines to his solos. But he's less funky than Hunter, preferring a breezier, purer music that he calls "progressive acoustic jazz." His sound is smooth and unobtrusive, yet it's also deceptive in its mellowness -- thanks in no small part to his Curvaturebandmates: pedal steel guitarist David Phillips, drummer Dan Foltz, and marimba player Joel Davel. Davel, who has logged "new music" hours with the Paul Dresher String Ensemble, creates a light timbral and harmonic backdrop from which West springboards, using his patented eight-string slide technique. Their interplay is the kind of thing that makes guitar rag readers -- and less initiated listeners -- go gaga.

allaboutjazz.com

Jack West & Curvature: Big Ideas

Glenn AstaritaBy GLENN ASTARITA 

Views: 2,601
8-string acoustic guitarist Jack West melds organically induced homespun themes with blues and jazz overtones on his fifth release, titled Big Ideas. Here, “Jack West and Curvature” renders subtle intimacy along with pumping beats and atmospheric propositions as the guitarist makes every note count whether pursuing bluesy bottleneck slide choruses or jazzy lines amid enticing harmonic relationships with cellist Mark Summer and marimba performer Joel Davel. Drummer Scott Amendola, primarily known for his ongoing affiliation with guitarist Charlie Hunter, rounds out an overall sound brimming with quaint melodies and expansive interplay.

Pieces such as “Something About the Dream” and “This Life Reprise” are comprised of cyclic movements, sublime harmonies, East Indian undercurrents and brisk soloing by West, Summer and Davel. However, on “Same Planet, Different Universe”, West fuses jazz-based voicings with Caribbean and Classical elements atop Amendola’s delicate brush work and the band’s buoyant passages and multihued tonalities. Overall, Jack West presents the listener with a hybrid approach to jazz yet the artist’s memorable compositions and glimmering technique bespeaks a fertile imagination, further enhanced by Lee Townsend’s insightful production and the musician’s sympathetic interaction. Recommended!