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The A, B, C & D of Boogie Woogie: Live in Paris

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As one of rock’s most eloquent drummers-and one who never lacked for groove-Charlie Watts always seemed like he’d be a boogie-woogie natural, even if the Rolling Stones tended to avoid that medium. But this is boogie-woogie central here, as you’d expect from this fourpiece’s moniker, with the occasional rock ‘n’ roll backbeat pushing the band in a bluesier direction, almost like we’re hearing live boogie woogie by way of soul jazz.

Watts is part metronome, part bombardier with his crisply accented fills, which-as on “Roll ‘Em Pete”-have a knack for synching up with some of the knottier contours of Dave Green’s bass riffs. This is one rhythm section with a penchant, one might say, for popping, for that expressive, deep-bottomed twang and reverberation that only acoustic instruments seem to provide. At times, as on the opening “Bonsoir Boogie!,” the rhythmic underpinning becomes locomotive-like in quality, as if the band wants to break into a “Mystery Train”-type number, but without the usual gloom, thanks to the robust piano interplay of Ben Waters and Axel Zwingenberger.

The proceedings can get a bit shaggy: “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” is one unkempt, rangy party piece, but good fun all the same. “Down the Road a Piece” is the other Stones-associated track, and one imagines that a cut like this was why Watts got involved in such a side project. Here’s your boogie-woogie experience, pure as it gets, with plenty of stomp and swing and, surely, bopping heads in the audience. Meade Lux Lewis would have been all over this stuff.

Originally Published