Any discussion of the Rolling Stones’ musicality quickly leads to the drumming skills of Charlie Watts, the band’s bedrock since its inception some 55 years ago. Steady and forceful but also imbued with an inherent swing, Watts is a lifelong jazz fanatic who’ll talk of Chico Hamilton, Art Blakey, Max Roach and Philly Joe Jones with the same enthusiasm Jagger and Richards bring to a discussion of Chuck Berry and Howlin’ Wolf.
At the outset of the Stones, before he made a working wage with his fellow Englishmen, Watts spent time in Denmark, where he played with any combo that would have him. In 2010 he returned to the country to team with the Danish Radio Big Band for a gig in Copenhagen, the results of which comprise this release.
Working closely with arranger/producer Gerard Presencer, Watts and the big band navigate seven extended tracks, three of them thoroughly reworked Stones tunes. But before he gets to any of those, Watts pays tribute to another of his heroes, Elvin Jones, with the two-part original “Elvin Suite” (co-written with fellow sticksman Jim Keltner); it unfolds deliberately, pastorally in its first half before building toward its crashing crescendos.
Of the Stones tunes, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is given a fat backbeat; “Paint It Black,” coated with an Ellingtonian gloss, is rendered nearly unrecognizable; and “(Satis) Faction” (parentheses added for no known reason) borrows more from Otis Redding’s soul workout than from the source material. The standard “I Should Care” and Joe Newman’s “Molasses” round out the program, the latter giving Watts his first real opportunity to give the kit the serious pounding it’s been asking for.Originally Published