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.