In a feature piece from this month’s issue of JazzTimes magazine, critic David Adler calls drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts “…one of the most consequential sidemen of the last 30 years, revamping and revitalizing the art of swing itself.”* A longtime member of both Wynton and Branford Marsalis’s groups, Watts’s influence on contemporary jazz drumming runs far and deep—drummers as different as Eric Harland and Jim Black name Watts as a major touchstone.
Since leaving the drum chair in the Branford Marsalis quartet in 2009, Watts has taken on a new roll in his acclaimed career—that of a composer and bandleader. Already, many of his tunes have become staples of the Branford quartet book (even after his departure), tunes that are ecstatic and complex, yet never for complexity’s sake. This past June, Watts released two companion albums Blue, vols. 1 & 2 (Dark Key Music), recorded in his home studio and released on his own label. The albums consisted mostly of Watts’s original compositions, played by a rotating cast of collaborators old (guitarist Paul Bollenbeck, trombonist Frank Lacy) and new (saxophonist Troy Roberts, pianist James Francies). Watts even takes a vocal turn on the album, as an alter ego named “Juan Tainish.”
This weekend, Mr. Watts returns to The Jazz Gallery as apart of our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a band of young collaborators—Aaron Djuan Burnett on saxophone, Theo Hill on piano, and Romeir Mendez on bass. The intensity of Watts & company will sure to lift you from tryptophan-induced drowsiness, especially if the clip below is any indication.
* Be sure to check out the rest of Adler’s article, which is filled many great insights and anecdotes, including about how Watts became “Tain.”
Tain & The Strain perform at The Jazz Gallery this Friday, November 27th, and Saturday, November 28th, 2015. The group is led by Mr. Jeff “Tain” Watts on the drums, and features Aaron Djuan Burnett on saxophone, Theo Hill on piano, and Romeir Mendez on bass. Sets are at 7:30 and 9:30 P.M. each night. $30 general admission ($20 for members), $40 reserved cabaret seating ($30 for members) for each set. Purchase tickets here.