Charlie Watts: The rock ‘n’ roll legend whose true love was jazz | Charlie Watts

NSvery one knows it Charlie WattsHis heart was always jazz. Even when he had long hair and wore a hippie outfit during it rolling stones They were going through the period of their demonic majesty, beneath them was still the gentle beepopper who could see through the nonsense surrounding his group and the raging vanity in her heart.

Wisely, he didn’t let his true musical loyalty show in his play with the stones. When they recruited him from Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated in January 1963, not long after his training with traditional jazz bands, he listened to recordings of Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf and mud water In order to grasp the way major Chicago drummers like Earl Phillips, Fred Below, and Elgin Evans keep things simple, they quickly realize that simplicity is often the hardest thing of all.

His personal adaptation of their conservative approach, emphasizing strong background tone and avoiding any form of frills, turned out to be ideal for rocks as volume and venue increased in size, but couldn’t be far from the styles of modern-day jazz drumming greats he grew up worshiping. proverbs Max RoachAnd blackie artWilly Joe Jones and Elvin Jones He freed the drummer group from their secondary role, enabling them to become full participants in the music, adding a running commentary on trumpeters’ improvisations such as Miles Davis And John Coltrane, and sometimes as an equal partner.

Growing up in a post-war prefab at Wembley, Watts had saved money to buy 78s by Jelly Roll Morton and Johnny Dodds, Charlie Parker And gillespie dizzy. When he got his first complete set, after he began dismantling a banjo to use the body and parchment as a makeshift drum, he painted the name “Chico” on the front header of what was known in those days as the basic drum. This was a tribute to Chico Hamilton, a drummer from Los Angeles who had played in a popular quartet with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker in the early 1950s before releasing his own adventure quintet, which became popular at the end of that decade and appeared on screen in the 1957 film Sweet Smell. .

Never shy about his penchant for hero-worship, Watts showed his colors in his first work of independent creativity. An ode to high-altitude birds, published in 1964, when Stones hit #1 on the UK charts with It’s All Over Now and Little Red Rooster, was a tiny volume of words and cartoons in which he used his skills as a trained graphic artist to illustrate Parker’s story ( which he later covered with his quintet), which is charmingly rendered as a sort of children’s tale.

His soulmate in Stone’s earliest incarnation was Ian Stewart, a pianist who loved boogie and other forms of jazz but was soon taken out of the performing lineup due to his looks and convinced to take the job of road manager instead. In the late 1970s, Watts lit up with Stewart in Rocket 88, the boogie-and-jump ensemble whose changing lineup included such guests as Chris Farlow, Zoot Mooney, and Jack Bruce.

He always found jazz clubs more convenient than the pitches the Stones now played, and in 1985 he filled the stage at Ronnie Scott with a large 32-piece ensemble of London jazz drummers. An eclectic, unusual lineup ranged from veterans of the Pop era to Courtney Payne, an unknown young 21-year-old early in his career, who sat alongside fellow saxophonist Danny Moss, Bobby Wells, Don Wheeler and Alan Skidmore. Jack Bruce Playing the cello – his first musical instrument – and Stan Tracy It was on the piano. Watts sat happily in his group between two other drummers, older Bill Aiden and younger John Stevens, playing tracks from such classics as Lester Leaps In, Stompin’ at the Savoy, and Prelude to a Kiss. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards They were at home to celebrate what Watts described as the fulfillment of a childhood dream.

He was able to support the project, which toured the United States the following year, with his earnings as a stoner. In subsequent years, he took advantage of the band’s significant hiatus to return to Ronnie Scott and elsewhere with groups of more modest size and to record in 1996 a beautiful album of Standards, Long Ago and Far Away, played by his quintet, small orchestra and singer Bernard Fowler. These were warm, comforting versions of songs like Stairway to the Stars and In a Sentimental Mood, with Watts’ presence recorded only by the gentle background rustle of a wire brush, as far from sympathizing with the devil and street fighter as possible for the music, but they were clearly Sincerely.

He was never a patron of the music he played with fellow Stones but his long and loyal friendships with other jazz musicians, such as the saxophonist, Peter King And guitarist Dave Greene, whom he had known since childhood, was of great importance to him. American drummer Jim Keltner was another close friend, with whom he recorded a rhythm-based album in 2000, again between the Stones’ tours. Each of the record’s nine tracks took their title from the names of the drummers he represented: Roach, Blackie, Kenny Clark, Roy Haynes and so on. Once again, he was paying tribute to the musicians who, on a different record, enriched his life, and enriched the lives of others.

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