Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts Releases Big Band Jazz Album


Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts Releases Big Band Jazz Album

–Joe Lund

Even as the Rolling Stones’ latest album, Blue and Lonesome, continues to earn accolades—it was recently honored at the U.K. Jazz FM Awards—drummer Charlie Watts has forged ahead with yet another jazz-based side-project release. His most recent foray into the genre is the aptly titled Charlie Watts Meets the Danish Radio Big Band. Watts and the world-renowned Danish jazz orchestra recorded the LP back in 2010 at the Danish Radio Concert Hall in Copenhagen, after just four days of rehearsals.

The music was arranged and conducted by British trumpeter Gerard Presencer, who points out that Watts lived in Denmark for several months—and became enamored of the country’s jazz scene–at the turn of the ‘60s. “I landed a job with Danish Radio Big Band in 2009,” says Presencer. “A week or two after arriving in Copenhagen I got a call from Charlie. Later the idea dawned upon me for a return to his jazz days over here after nearly 50 years. I spoke with my boss at the Danish Radio Big Band and went about putting this live project together. We agreed upon a week in Copenhagen in October 2010.”

Rolling Stones fans will be especially interested to know that the seven-track record includes renditions of three Stones songs:  a bossa nova-tinged cover of “Satisfaction”–retitled “(Satis) Faction”—and imaginative reworkings of “Paint it Black” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The set’s showpiece, however, is said to be the performance of two sections of “Elvin Suite,” an original composition from Watt’s 2000 duet record with fellow drummer Jim Keltner.

Watt’s love of jazz has been a predominant part of his musical life for the past half-century. Indeed it was Watt’s fascination with the genre that shaped the unorthodox and original drumming style that he brought to the Stones’ blues-based rock and roll.

Around 30 years ago, the drummer began using his downtime from the Stones to front a variety of jazz and “big band” configurations. A 1986 album with his 32-piece Charlie Watts Orchestra earned rave reviews, and in the ‘90s he released a spate of well-received LPs with his Charlie Watts Quintet. That quintet became a “Tentet” in 2004, and more recently, Watts formed the wittily dubbed ABC&D of Boogie Woogie, featuring himself, pianists Axel Zwingenberger and Ben Waters, and bassist Dave Green.

Charlie Watts Meets the Danish Radio Big Band was released on April 21, on the Impulse!/Verve label. Below, you can watch the drummer talk about the influence that jazz has had on his life and his music.

To order on vinyl click here