Charlie Watts and the Tentet
Blue Note Jazz Club, November 7, 2001:
I get to the club early to get a good seat, and I do, right in front. I have a lengthy, intelligent conversation with a fellow drummer, Matthew, who is also here to see long time Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie Watts, perform with his jazz ensemble. Charlie enters the club at just after seven o’clock and gives me a smile and a nod. The club quickly fills up to capacity, with about 200 patrons. The crowd is primarily a jazz crowd, here to see Charlie Watts in a new musical capacity, that of jazz drummer and bandleader.
Charlie has surrounded himself with ten top shelf jazz musicians. There was absolutely not a weak spot in this entire line up. With superior arrangements by Gerard Presencer (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Peter King (alto saxophone), the ensemble provided a very interesting and colorful combination of orchestral visions; sometimes consonant and traditional and then discretely melding into unusual and tasteful dissonance. Charlie was solid as a rock on the jazz tempo, and the ensemble’s rhythmic dynamics, providing succinct beginnings and endings. The set included exceptional solos by each and every member of the Tentet. The trombonist, Mark Nightingale, had several lively and inspirational solo efforts. The baritone saxophone, always one of my favorite instruments, Alan Barnes, did not disappoint whatsoever. It helped tremendously that he was only two feet away. He also took a tremendous and flavorful solo on clarinet. Song number six featured the Latin composition “Tin Tin Deo” by Luis Jardim, who contributed the only vocal effort of the night. Luis’s tune featured a hot Latin tempo, with Charlie and Luis showcasing their intense percussive interplay, complimented with sharply contrasting cut time swing breaks. The encore was “Take the ‘A’ train”. This Duke Ellington signature tune from longtime collaborator Billy Strayhorne, featured the quality musicianship the Tentet possessed, and clearly showed the respect they all have for this musical genre.
Charlie Watts and the Tentet, were enthusiastically received by the crowd. They played extremely well, to rightly earn our admirable response. Charlie remained distinctly in the background and let the other musicians shine brightly. Charlie introduced the band at two different times and seemed to deliberately downplay his presence. One patron, who was seemingly a Stones fan said “And where’s Charlie Watts?”
The Blue Note staff were the ultimate professionals, and a joy. Their service was superior. The food was fabulous. I highly recommend you catch Charlie and the Tentet, at The Blue Note, before it’s too late.
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