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The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie at Lincoln Center, 6-28-12

The Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts shows where it all came from

Charlie Watts and Dave Green, Lincoln Center 6-28-12
Charlie Watts, Lincoln Center 2012
Charlie Watts, Lincoln Center 2012

The Rolling Stones are presently planning a 50th anniversary tour for next year that will undoubtedly take them to stadiums all around the world and gross millions of dollars along the way. But for Charlie Watts, their drummer then, now and always, none of the gargantuan pageantry that accompanies a large-scale rock tour is necessary. Outdoors at Lincoln Center, as part of this season’s Midsummer Night Swing series, Watts was content to anchor a four-piece boogie-woogie outfit for a few hundred diehards and an equal number-many retro-outfitted-that took to the dance floor, quite possibly unaware that an integral member of “the greatest rock and roll band in the world” was providing the evening’s entertainment.

This was where Watts began, with blues and jazz. He’s made no secret through the years that it’s his music of choice-rock may have made him a legend but sit him down at his basic Gretsch kit and let him swing and he’s a happy man. He’s long moonlighted with his Charlie Watts Orchestra big band and has also performed with smaller groups paying tribute to Charlie Parker and the Great American Songbook, but this music is home to him. Watts is the “C” of the A, B, C & D of Boogie Woogie-the others are pianists Axel Zwingenberger and Ben Waters (who both alternated and played tandem) and double bassist Dave Green, a lifelong friend of Watts. The drummer may be the recognizable one here, but musically they were equals.

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