Charlie Watts Jim Keltner Project
Charlie Watts and Jim KeltnerCOCD 48695
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
It might have been Mick's jumpin' getting all the attention, but it was the flash of Charlie Watts' backbeating sticks that drove the Rolling Stones' rhythms for all these years. Now, in a un-'beat'-able match-up with multi-talented Jim Keltner, the duo is drumming their way to your doorstep with their self-titled Project. The Charlie Watts Jim Keltner Project, released in 2000 by Higher Octave Music is a celebration of percussion, dedicated to a whole host of jazz legends. |
Playing a Mickey Hart-sized collection of drums and other percussive instruments from around the world, Watts and Keltner have created a living tribute to their own musical influences who have traveled the beaten path before them. They titled each of the cuts with unforgettable names like Kenny Clarke (#3), who was a drumming trendsetter of the Big Band Era. Digital programming wizard Phillippe Chauveau lends oud, tar, and voice sequences to this Middle-Eastern-spiced piece. We enjoy his savory production skills on other numbers as well, when he adds the tabla, flute, Indian voice and African choir samples to the mix. The Elvin Suite, (# 9) is named for living-legend, Elvin Jones, whom the liner notes described as, "the rolling thunder behind John Coltrane's quartet from the 60's." Keltner says of this distinctive South African melody, "this is one of the prettiest songs I've ever heard in my life." Keith Richards, another of Watts' favorite players on lead guitar, adds to this song's 'easy on the ears' qualities.
Tony Williams, (#4) is a dirge-like requiem honoring the master drummer for jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. Darth Vader-like voice effects makes this eerie tune a somber note of passing for Mr. Williams, who died just one week before the recording session for the Project. Watts' other Stones' partner, Mick Jagger, joins in on piano.
Despite the association with be-bop mentors and characteristically complicated cool jazz greats, these eclectic drum sessions are sparse. Electronically sophisticated, in order to capitalize on the latest digital recording techniques, the sounds are nonetheless very simply made. Keltner prides himself in using only the most 'organic' sources for his sequences: ie., "fish steamers, boiled egg cutters, pipes and a lot of steel shelves...just odd things that I've acquired over the years." No wonder he boasts such an impressive list of recording credits: John Lennon, John Lee Hooker, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Neil Diamond, Rita Coolidge, George Harrison and Linda Ronstadt, on and on and on. Not that I'm a name-dropper. The result is a rollicking, uninhibited party reminiscent of the raucous Stones' sound.
No one likes jazz less than me and I LOVED this disc! Fun, upbeat and energizing, Charlie Watts Jim Keltner Project, is a toe-tapping treat! This ain't jazz, it's drums!
All songs written by Watts and Keltner except as noted.