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Indulging his passions

Long Ago & Far Away
Long Ago & Far Away
By Charlie Watts

Pointblank / Virgin Records: 1996

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This review first appeared in the July 26, 1996 issue of the North County Times.

If Charlie Watts were anyone other than drummer for The Rolling Stones, this album would be under Bernard Fowler's name. Still, you have to like Watts giving a basically unknown young singer a chance.

Watts has always been a jazz aficionado, and the success of the Stones has given him the financial wherewithal to do what he wants in his autumn years.

An earlier project was devoted to bop saxophonist Charlie Parker. This is Watts' third collection of torch songs by composers such as Gershwin, Cahn and Ellington, as well as the third album featuring Fowler, a backing singer for the Stones.

Fowler is ... well, imagine a young, black Tony Bennett with dreadlocks. Like Bennett, Fowler has a slightly world-weary approach to his singing that is balanced with an underlying optimism. HE's never morose the way Sinatra can be – which can be good or bad, depending on whether you enjoy delving into the depths of despair during the course of a Gershwin or Porter tune.

And Watts? Hey, he's the consummate drummer. His skill is shown to far better effect here, bringing out the color and nuance of jazz, than it ever will be behind the blues shuffle of the Stones.