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 Curvature bandmates: 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.