Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts returns to his love of jazz for a live album of big band classics, originals and Rolling Stones covers. Charlie Watts Meets The Danish Radio Big Band will be released on impulse! / Verve on April 21.
Before the Rolling Stones were a known entity in the early 1960s, Charlie Watts had a day job that took him to Denmark. While he was there, he entrenched himself in the jazz and blues scene, sitting in with bands big and small, keeping his passion for music alive while he earned his living.
Fast-forward fifty years to 2010: Charlie Watts got together with the Danish Radio Big Band and rehearsed for four days, presenting a concert at the newly opened Concert Hall of Denmark in Copenhagen that was broadcast on Danish National Radio. The synergy between the big band and Charlie Watts and his childhood friend and bassist Dave Green was palpable, and a day or two after the broadcast it was clear this would make a great live album.
The album kicks off with an original by Charlie Watts and Jim Keltner called "Elvin Suite" in two parts: it begins with an arpeggiated intro with blaring chords that sound like stained glass, a gorgeous mood setter that combines the nostalgia of big bands with the groove of soul. Part two kicks it up a notch, with tenor sax wailing throughout.
"Faction" is a jazzed out version of "(Can't Get No) Satisfaction," almost unrecognizable with its Bossa Nova rhythms, until it's abundantly clear when the trumpet takes on Mick Jagger's memorable melody. "You Can't Always Get What You Want" should have been a big band, funky anthem all along, and "Paint It Black" snakes along moodily, soulful guitar scratching through the crescendos of the brass section. "I Should Care" and "Molasses" represent the original big band repertoire, the latter ending the album on a rollicking note.
Charlie Watts has long been considered a great ambassador for jazz, and with this album it's clear why. He brings a jazz sensibility to his rock music, and rock to jazz. The spot-on repertoire and energy he elicits from the Danish Big Band Radio make this album musically great, and above all, fun.
Charles Robert Watts was born on Monday 2 June 1941. It was when he was around ten years old that Charlie discovered jazz, and Miles Davis and John Coltrane in particular. It was soon after this that he began to explore the idea of becoming a drummer when he converted an old banjo, with a skin covering, into a snare drum. Charlie had no formal lessons and credits being able to watch great jazz drummers in London's jazz clubs as being the people that taught him how to play drums, properly.
Away from the Rolling Stones Charlie has found the time to continue to play jazz – he considers jazz to be his principal recreation – with a number of different groups, including a 32-piece band – the Charlie Watts Orchestra as well as working with Ian Stewart in the band Rocket 88 during the 1980s. In the 1990s the Charlie Watts Quintet released several albums, including a tribute to Charlie Parker. Come 2004 and the quintet and expanded to become, Charlie Watts and the Tentet that both recorded and played live.