By Robert J. Carmack
It comes as no surprise that, whenever a well respected musician comes to LA and, they are a part of the World Stage Eco-System and family at that. The ”hipsters, cool gents and lovely ladies show up and out at the Leimert Park performance space known as the WORLD STAGE. Recently , just such an event occurred when master pianist and jazz musician Bobby West appeared as part of their ongoing Jazz Stream Series sponsored by Guess Foundation. A lot was going on at the same time with reunions of all sorts , musicians, students of music and jazz aficionados welcomed Bobby Home at the Stage. Bobby of course had a power trio, made up of his long-time friends in Bassist Christy Smith, who just happened to be in town and drummer Fritz Wise.
One could run down a yeoman’s list of accolades but , according to writer R J Smith, author of James Brown’s bio said this recently in liner notes from “Leimert Park After Dark..” West sounds hold California light, it is aspirational, nimble. He sails on top of the beat, gets your attention with a playful statement of melody that ties wit, candor, and precision together. His playing feels conversational, yet every moment matters. He is reaching for grace.
In my humble opinion, West makes the necessary moves on the bandstand ,but he never “text” in his efforts from first set to last set of night. I love the way he infuses both the elegance of a symphonic pianist while capturing all the drama, and Noir of a Thelonius Monk or a Nimble Bud Powell in his right hand. But he is a master of locked-hand style of soloing, still bursting out with panache and gusto. I hear the influences of the masters, but I also hear Bobby being Bobby. Some how, He’s able to bring two schools of approach to his style of playing music… whether he’s doing a Duke Ellington or Duke Pearson or Stevie Wonder composition. He brings the pain in his artistry, but he also brings the intellect and sinewy ideas and concepts around capturing you as a fan for life.
I have worked with Bobby West on various projects and jams. His approach to any situation is always professional, direct and very soulful.. Bobby can play some Funk, Hip hop or Charles Mingus jazz suites. Physically he reminds me of a cross between Bobby Timmons and bassist Cecil McBee. Again, if you came to hear some corny keyboards mushy soloing through the changes of jazz classic Forget about it.. No Sir!! Its Carnegie Hall every time Bobby touches the keyboard. Articulate and profound musician from Los Angeles, California.