CHARLIE WATTS - JIM KELTNER PROJECT - DRUMS - PERCUSSIION - RHYTHM THANG - "Eclectic Earwig Reviews Music and More for You!"    
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Charlie Watts Jim Keltner Project (CD, 54:45) CyberOctive Music COCD 48695
Higher Octave Music, Inc.
23852 Pacific Coast Hwy., Suite 2C
Malibu, CA 90265

Jim Keltner apparently gets off on sampling every percussive sound he comes
across - kitchen utensils, rattling chains, banging on a table, etc.  I know
this because I've just finished listening to the Charlie Watts Jim
Keltner Project, and I think I've heard every possible banging sound
that this planet has to offer.  When super-session man Keltner hooked up
with the Rolling Stone's Cheshire Cat Charlie Watts, their apparent goal was
to make an engaging and eclectic percussive jazz album - one that would be
centered on drums, but also include other elements such as African and
Indian stylings. Did they succeed in this goal? Well, while Project
is certainly eclectic, it is by no means engaging.  As a matter of fact,
other than a few brief moments, it's a mess.

The CD starts out on a high note with the track "Shelly Manne" (did I
mention that all the tracks are named after famous drummers?).  Watts lays
out a real good groove, while Keltner uses some tasteful sequences and
percussion to fill out the piece.  Clocking in at just under 3 minutes, the
song is over before it has a chance to get tedious.  This is unfortunately
not the case with the rest of the CD.  The next tune titled "Art Blakely"
starts off with a cool jungle vibe (I expected the Zulus to come rushing out
of my speakers) that initially sounds promising but soon turns repetitive
and boring as after a minute you realize that you're just going to listen to
the same few measures over and over and over.  This reminded more of house
music (like they play at fashion shows) than jazz.  On the excruciatingly
long "Tony Williams" (12 minutes), there is an interesting use of a
synthesized voice that stops being interesting after about 2 minutes.  The
remaining 10 minutes will have you subjected to some of the most obnoxious
cymbal work I've ever heard, courtesy of Mr. Watts.  With a few exceptions,
the rest of the album pretty much consists of surprisingly pedestrian
drumming from Watts coupled with totally inappropriate samples from Keltner.
Very disappointing.

Was there anything positive about Project?  Well sort of, the 12
minute "Elvin Suite" has a really nice smooth jazz flavor to it - that is
until the African choir comes in and totally destroys any ambience the song
was trying to build.  "Roy Haynes" has Watts busting a KILLER drum pocket,
only to have Keltner's obnoxious samples ruin the groove.  As a matter of
fact, the best part of this CD happens despite Watts and Keltner and
not because of them; in the middle of another boring track called
"Max Roach", piano man Emmanuel Sourdeix and string bass player Remy Vignolo
break in and play an absolutely fantastic two minutes of traditional jazz
that leaves you wondering why these musicians aren't featured more
prominently on the album.

However, other than an interesting first track and two minutes worth of
flying piano and bass, Project is an utter disappointment.  I'm sure
that Watts and Keltner are very capable musicians who could come up with
something very interesting together, but this ain't it.

- Michael Askounes (

Charlie Watts: Drums
Jim Keltner: Sequenced sounds, percussion, "drum bits"
Various other musicians

1. Shelly Manne (2:55)
2. Art Blakey (5:22)
3. Kenny Clarke (3:25)
4. Tony Williams (11:45)
5. Roy Haynes (4:10)
6. Max Roach (4:07)
7. Airto (6:23)
8. Billy Higgins (4:38)
9. Elvin Suite (12:23)




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