In what is apparently the second instance of the superb nickname Doc West being used in the recording arts, a well-seasoned expert in country & western, folk, and blues is slowly assembling a discography of his unique material, so far one album per decade since the '90s. That seems like a piddle house compared to the towering condominium of sides featuring the earlier Harold "Doc" West, a bebop drummer who hailed from North Dakota. The Doc West whose Made in the USA CD with harmonica maestro Lucky Lloyd came out in 2005 was born and raised in Oregon. He has acknowledged this setting in his music, blending the most traditional of country & western instrumentation with the cosmopolitan strains of woodwinds as if he's just hopped off a freight train in the outskirts of Portland in order to score a double espresso.
He certainly has gotten around, perhaps not entirely by freight train, listing the following for locales where Doc West has set up shop: "the California West Coast, the Pacific Northwest, the East Coast milieu of Boston and New York City, the Jersey Shore, the Deep South from Miami to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia, on the wind-swept prairies of Texas in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio, to Kansas City, Missouri, and Tulsa, Oklahoma." While West Coasting, West was a member of a Motown staff band, Odyssey. This group has become embroiled in its own Trojan War regarding just which session men played on which record in the label's nearly holy catalog of soul hits, the better-known Detroit aggregation sometimes taking credit for sides that actually came out of sessions produced more cheaply out in La La Land.
West also accompanied or wrote material for Ike & Tina Turner, Bonnie Bramlett, Chicago, Stephen Stills, Diana Ross, Eric Clapton, TW Henderson, and the Afternoon Delights, putting him at least temporarily in the focus of major labels such as Columbia and Mercury. On his own he has managed to avoid the latter route, producing and recording his own material in the D.I.Y. manner. The aforementioned 2005 project features intense duo communication with his harmonica buddy and may go on to be considered something of a masterpiece in terms of simple, straightforward presentation. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
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