May 24, 2024

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CD review: Charlie Watts – Anthology – 2023: Video, CD cover

The first extensive anthology drawn from the bespoke jazz catalogue of one of the world’s most loved and admired drummers, the legendary Charlie Watts, will be released by BMG on June 30th. Available both in double vinyl and double CD editions, Anthology is a monument to the “other” musical identity of the giant who underpinned the Rolling Stones for more than 55 years.

It draws on a near 20-year period in his substantial catalogue of jazz recordings in various configurations, including quartet, quintet, tentet, and orchestra. The collection is both the perfect memento of a unique artist for long-time devotees and the perfect introduction for new admirers.

Anthology is a celebration of the tasteful and inventive playing of a true inspiration to millions, who generously diverted the spotlight onto his brilliant, hand-picked collaborators. Across Anthology, these include such greats as his lifelong friend and double bass stalwart Dave Green, saxophonists such as Peter King, Evan Parker and Courtney Pine, trumpeter Gerard Presencer, fellow drum titan Jim Keltner and vocalist and Rolling Stones live band member Bernard Fowler.

This highly desirable retrospective begins in 1986, when Watts had his own name on an album for the first time – with typical modesty, some 25 years after his drumming first became the talk of his peers – on Live At Fulham Town Hall. It then features selections from the Charlie Watts Quintet’s 1991 mini-album From One Charlie, their albums A Tribute to Charlie Parker with Strings (1992), Warm and Tender (1993) and Long Ago and Far Away (1996), the 2000 collaboration Charlie Watts – Jim Keltner Project and another live set, 2004’s Watts at Scott’s, as the Charlie Watts Tentet.

The expanded CD track listing is further augmented by the inclusion of three sought-after tracks from a performance by Watts and his group at Swindon Arts Centre, featuring versions of “Rockhouse Boogie,” “Ain’t Nobody Minding Your Store,” and “Swindon Swing.”

Anthology features liner notes by music journalist and broadcaster Paul Sexton, the author of Charlie’s Good Tonight: The Authorised Biography of Charlie Watts, published by HarperCollins.

BMG has announced that on June 30, 2023 it will release Anthology, a collection of Charlie Watt’s jazz recordings, drawn from a 20-year period during which he led a big band, as well as smaller groups like a quartet, quintet and tentet. Amongst the musicians featured on the 2-CD/2-Vinyl compilation from the late Rolling Stones drummer are saxophonists Peter King, Evan Parker and Courtney Pine, trumpeter Gerard Presencer, bassist Dave Green and vocalist/percussionist Bernard Fowler.

The set pulls music from numerous jazz albums Watts recorded beginning in 1986 with Live at Fulham Town Hall. Other albums include From One Charlie (1991) A Tribute to Charlie Parker with Strings (1992), Warm and Tender (1993) and Long Ago and Far Away (1996), Charlie Watts – Jim Keltner Project (2000), and Watts at Scott’s (2004). The double album also includes three tracks from a performance by Watts and his group at Swindon Arts Centre, featuring versions of “Rockhouse Boogie,” “Ain’t Nobody Minding Your Store,” and “Swindon Swing.” Liner notes for Anthology are written by music journalist and radio host Paul Sexton, author of Charlie’s Good Tonight: The Authorised Biography of Charlie Watts.

“Everyone knows he was a big jazz fan,” bassist Darryl Jones told me in an interview for JazzTimes, shortly after Watts’ death. “You can certainly hear Papa Jo Jones in his playing. I know he loved all the swing and bebop guys: Dave Tough, Kenny Clarke, Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones …  he was friends with Roy Haynes. I can’t say specifically which drummers influenced him but when he played a fill, that wasn’t a rock & roll fill. It wasn’t really straightforward. He also dug the Motown guys like Benny Benjamin and Al Jackson from Al Green’s band. He had all of those influences and all of those things went together into him creating this school of rock & roll drumming. He was also self-taught, so that creates a very particular kind of thing. If you’re self-taught, there’s less of a blueprint. It’s not easily copyable.”

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