Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The ABC & D of Boogie Woogie "Live in Paris," Ben Waters "Boogie4Stu"

(Eagle) This quartet is made up of the A, B, & D of German boogie piano master Axel Zwingenberger, British piano prodigy Ben Waters, and British stand-up bass veteran Dave Green. But for many audience members filling the Parisian nightclub Duc Des Lombards for the weeklong engagement in 2010, it was the C that drew them there, Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts. Considering that the advertising was relatively honest ("Boogie Woogie" is in their name, for Pinetop's sake!), folks knew what they were getting, but hardcore Stones fans who showed up that didn't dig old time rent party jazz may have been left cold...maybe. Then again, Watts gets to swing pretty hard on a special drum showcase, some of the vocal numbers, particularly "Route 66," are pretty rooted in the skiffle and the skifflier side of early Brit blues rock that set the stage for the Stones, and their slinky version of "St. Louis Blues" is pretty hep no matter what your bag is. Basically, this remarkable collection of cool, classy classics by Big Joe Turner, W.C. Handy, Dr. John and others, and originals so perfectly by the boogie woogie numbers it seems hard to claim them as original, is such a joy that you won't be bothered by the absence of the strutting or stumbling Watts' day job frontman and guitarist are known for (and you won't be bothered by their not being a frontman or a guitarist, for that matter). Also perhaps appeasing Stones fans even more is that 3/4 of this band played on Waters' stellar 2011 album "Boogie 4 Stu," a tribute to Stones founder (and Waters former bandmate) Ian Stewart, which featured every member of the Rolling Stones in some capacity. The jazz treatments of songs and styles associated with the late Stones road manager, longtime piano man, and boogie woogie enthusiast features brilliant covers of blues, jazz, and R&B numbers made famous by Jimmy Yancey, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, and Bob Dylan (who sounds like R&B source material once Mick lends his voice and harp to it). While it is not as marvelous and energetic as the lively live album Waters recorded with his alphabet rockers in Old Paree, it is probably the best Stones album in a quarter century.

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