Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts Releasing Solo Album

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Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts is releasing his latest solo album—a jazz set like his previous non-Stones recordings—on impulse!/Verve on April 21. Titled Charlie Watts Meets the Danish Radio Big Band, the live album features big band classics, originals and Rolling Stones covers.

From the press release: “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 50 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 Watts and Jim Keltner called “Elvin Suite” (a tribute to jazz drummer Elvin Jones) in two parts. “Faction” is described as “a jazzed out version of ‘(I 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.” Other Stones covers on the album include “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and “Paint It Black.” “I Should Care” and “Molasses” represent the original big band repertoire, the latter ending the album.

Related: A conversation with Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood

Charlie Watts

Watts has been a lifelong jazz fan. According to the press release, “It was when he was around 10 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 Stones, Watts has found the time to continue to play jazz with a number of different groups, including a 32-piece band, the Charlie Watts Orchestra, as well as working with the late Rolling Stones pianist 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. In 2004 Watts and the Tentet both recorded and played live.

The album can be pre-ordered here:

Watch a brief documentary on Charlie Watts’ jazz roots

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Best Classic Bands Staff

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