CD REVIEW: Charlie Watts and the Danish Radio Big Band - Charlie Watts Meets The Danish Radio Big Band



Charlie Watts and the Danish Radio Big Band - Charlie Watts Meets The Danish Radio Big Band
(impulse!. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)


This project grew out of a conversation between flugelhorn player and arranger Gerard Presencer and the Rolling Stones' drummer Charlie Watts. Before the Stones, Watts had spent some time in Denmark, where Presencer had just started working with the Danish Radio Big Band, and they decided to explore Watts' music within this context.

Watts has lead several jazz bands, including a big band in the 1980s, a quintet in the 1990s and his "tentet" in the mid 2000s, many of which have featured his life-long friend, bassist Dave Green, who joins him here, too. Watts expressed his admiration for several jazz drummers with the percussion-rich, rhythm heavy Charlie Watts / Jim Keltner Project, from which Presencer has arranged the two part Elvin Suite. The original is loose and driving, featuring a choir and vocalist. Presencer has given these voices to the Danish Radio Big Band in a consummate soulful arrangement. The second, faster part of the Elvin Suite is a powerful, drum and percussion lead piece that is full of motion - it's hard to stay sitting down listening to this. The Danish Radio Big Band starts growling and finishes roaring.

Several of the other tunes are Jagger/Richards compositions from early in the Stones' career. Faction is Presencer's rearrangement of Satisfaction, taken with a slight Latin lilt. You Can't Always Get What You Want is taken fast and tight, with Presencer's flugelhorn leading the melody over the band riffing. The Hammond-like organ creates a funky feel. Pernille Bevort extended solo on soprano sax ramps you the excitement to a climax. In contrast, Paint It Black is slow and brooding, Per Gade's guitar giving it a moody edge. Presencer's solo is suitably dark and oblique, before Gade cones back with the theme.

They finish with Molasses - not a remake of Brown Sugar, but a Joe Newman tune, transcribed from original Woody Herman charts by Mårten Lundgren. Featuring Kaspar Vadsholt on bass and Søren Frost on drums in addition to Green and Watts, this is a bluesy, blowing number which lets the band stretch out. The double rhythm section power along in a fast shuffle.

Charlie Watts and Gerard Presencer
Photo courtesy of Gerard Presencer

Originally recorded for a radio broadcast in 2010, this CD captures the excitement of the performance. Presencer has worked some magic with the arrangements, breathing new life into otherwise familiar pieces.

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.

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