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Jeff "Tain" Watts
Jeff Tain Watts.jpg
Watts performing with Wynton Marsalis in JazzFest 2007
Background information
Born (1960-01-20) January 20, 1960 (age 55)
Origin Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, bandleader, actor
Instruments Drums
Labels Dark Key Music
Associated acts Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Kevin Eubanks, The Tonight Show Band
Website tainish.com

Jeff "Tain" Watts (born January 20, 1960) is a jazz drummer who has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Betty Carter, Michael Brecker, David Gilmour, Ravi Coltrane and others.


Jeff "Tain" Watts holds the unique distinction of being the only musician to appear on every Grammy Award-winning jazz record by both Wynton and Branford Marsalis.

He got the nickname "Tain" from Kenny Kirkland when they were on tour in Florida and drove past a Chieftain gas station.[1]

Watts has worked in the film and television industry as both a musician on the The Tonight Show with Jay Leno for three years and as an actor, playing Rhythm Jones in Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues. Watts performed and recorded with the Branford Marsalis Quartet from 1985 to 2009. He currently performs with his own groups The Watts Project and the Jeff "Tain" Watts Quartet, as well as with McCoy Tyner, The George Cables Project, and Geri Allen. In 2007 Watts started his own record label, Dark Key Music, releasing Folk's Songs in 2007, Watts in 2009 and Family in 2011. Terence Blanchard won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Solo for Dark Key Music's "Dancin' 4 Chicken". Watts writes most of the compositions on his own albums.

Watts is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan[citation needed] and can be seen on the album cover of Branford Marsalis's Braggtown with a Terrible Towel.


As leader[edit]

  • Megawatts (2004, originally recorded in 1991)
  • Citizen Tain (1999)
  • Bar Talk (2002)
  • DeTAINed at the Blue Note (2004)
  • Folk's Songs (2007) Dark Key Music
  • WATTS (2009) Dark Key Music
  • Family (2011) Dark Key Music

As sideman[edit]


Grammy Awards[edit]

  • Career Wins: 6[2]
  • Career Nominations: 15
Jeff "Tain" Watts Grammy History
Year Category Title Genre Label Result Notes
1986 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance - Group Black Codes From The Underground Jazz Columbia Winner with Wynton Marsalis.
1987 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance - Group J Mood Jazz Columbia Winner with Wynton Marsalis.
1988 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance - Group Marsalis Standard Time - Volume 1 Jazz Columbia Winner with Wynton Marsalis.
1988 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance - Group Trio Jeepy Jazz Columbia Nominated with Branford Marsalis
1990 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance - Group Mo Better Blues (soundtrack) Jazz CBS Nominated with the Branford Marsalis Quartet.
1993 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual Or Group I Heard You Twice The First Time Jazz Columbia Winner with the Branford Marsalis Quartet.
1996 Best Jazz Instrumental Album PanaMonk Jazz Impulse Nominated with Danilo Perez.
1998 Best Jazz Instrumental Album Songbook Jazz Warner Bros. Nominated with Kenny Garrett.
2000 Best Jazz Instrumental Album by an Individual or Group Requiem Jazz Columbia Nominated with the Branford Marsalis Quartet.
2000 Best Jazz Instrumental Album by an Individual or Group Time is of the Essence Jazz Verve Nominated with Michael Brecker
2001 Best Jazz Instrumental Album by an Individual or Group Contemporary Jazz Jazz Columbia Winner with the Branford Marsalis Quartet.
2001 Best Latin Jazz Album Refugee Jazz Verve Nominated with Hector Martignon.
2005 Best Jazz Instrumental Album by an Individual or Group Eternal Jazz Marsalis Music Nominated with the Branford Marsalis Quartet.
2010 Best Jazz Instrumental Solo Watts Jazz Dark Key (Watts' label) Winner Terence Blanchard for the track "Dancin' 4 Chicken"
2011 Best Jazz Instrumental Album by an Individual or Group Positootly! Jazz Resonance Records Nominated with John Beasley.
2011 Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album Mingus Big Band Live at Jazz Standard Jazz Mingus Workshop, Inc/Jazz Standard Winner with the Mingus Big Band


  1. ^ From an interview with Kevin LeGendre for Jazz On 3 on BBC Radio 3.
  2. ^ Grammy Awards list[dead link][dead link]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_"Tain"_Watts — Please support Wikipedia.
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25481 videos foundNext > 

Jeff Tain Watts: Vodville - Drum Solo

Jeff Tain Watts: Vodville - Drum Solo from the Appearance at the Modern Drummer Festival 2011 - from the Hudson Music DVD: Modern Drummer Festival 2011 ...more Videos here at ...

Remo + Jeff "Tain" Watts: San Jose Jazz Fest

Jeff "Tain" Watts performing at San Jose Jazz Fest. Toms: Coated Ambassador Snare: Coated Ambassador Bass: Coated Ambassador http://remo.com/

Jeff "Tain" Watts Quintet - "The Impaler"

Jeff "Tain" Watts Quintet at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center Santa Cruz, California.

Jeff Tain Watts - stomping at the savoy.mp4

Two of Jeff's solos are transcribed (with a complete analysis) in my book "The Magnificent 7" that features some of the finest drummers in jazz music today ("Cardboard" (from David Kikoski's...

Jeff "Tain" Watts Behind the Notes Interview (Part 1)

Part 1 of a sit down interview with drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts.

Tain Watts Solo

This is Jeff "Tain" Watts with Branford in the Love Supreme DVD. Get this DVD -- it is worth every Penny and support America's dwindling Jazz Musicians.

Jeff "Tain" Watts Quintuplet Phrase

Week 51 of a series I'm calling "52 Licks." 1 new jazz phrase each week. Last time it was a "Tain" lick that was fairly old school. This time it's something that I consider a "Tain" innovation....

Jazz Drummer Q-tip Lick of the Week: Jeff "Tain" Watts

Leave comments and any questions and I'll try to respond. Enjoy and check back in for a new Lick of Week! Don't forget to subscribe:) www.Quincydavis.com Assistant Professor of Drum-set at...

Branford Marsalis - A Love Supreme, live at Amsterdam -2003-

Brandon Marsalis - Tenor Saxophone Joey Calderazzo - Piano Jeff Tain Watts - Drums Eric Revis - Doublebass.

Michael Brecker quartet Terrassa jazz festival 1999 par1

Michael Brecker, tenor sax; Joey Calderazzo, piano; James Genus, bass; Jeff "Tain" Watts, drums; Terrassa jazz festival 1999 (Spain)

25481 videos foundNext > 

410 news items

New York Times
Thu, 19 Mar 2015 15:41:15 -0700

... has led more than one version of this powerhouse postbop trio, which suggests that he's the first among equals in its lineup, featuring two more virtuosos who came to prominence in the 1980s: the guitarist Stanley Jordan and the drummer Jeff (Tain ...

Ithaca Journal

Ithaca Journal
Wed, 18 Mar 2015 09:50:17 -0700

Additional credits include performances as well as recordings with Elvin Jones, Terence Blanchard, Kenny Baron, Steve Coleman, McCoy Tyner, Jack DeJohnette, Matt Garrison, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Geri Allen, Joanne Brackeem, The Blue Note 7, among others.

Ottawa Citizen (blog)

Ottawa Citizen (blog)
Wed, 25 Mar 2015 07:12:18 -0700

Yes, with the release Monday of his latest album, he's joined forces with A-lister Seamus Blake on saxophones, plus the for-the-ages bass-drums tandem of Robert Leslie Hurst and Jeff “Tain” Watts, which powered some of Botos' favourite Branford ...

Waterloo Record

Waterloo Record
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 00:41:15 -0700

On Saturday, Botos' music will speak to the audience accompanied by album musicians, multiple Grammy Award-winning drummer Jeff (Tain) Watts, former drummer on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Bass player Robert Hurst holds seven Grammys and ...
Jazz Police (blog)
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:15:00 -0700

With over 20 years of professional performance experience, he's played with Mose Allison, Jim Rotondi, Jeff "Tain" Watts, and Barrett Deems. Locally he was a fouding member of Triplicate and has performed with the Cedar Avenue Big Band, the George ...

Cashbox Magazine Canada

Cashbox Magazine Canada
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 14:22:30 -0700

It was with great pleasure pianist supreme Robi Botos made time to drop by my Thursday morning radio show - The Bill King Show at CIUT 89.5 and have a good sit down conversation about his life and music. The new CD is due any day and honestly and ...
Jazz Police
Sun, 22 Mar 2015 08:56:15 -0700

In February 2011 Wilson celebrated his 50th birthday with a six-night engagement, leading six different bands at Jazz Standard, NYC's premiere jazz club. The all-star line-up included Mulgrew Miller, Bruce Barth, Karrin Allyson, Lewis Nash, Jeff "Tain ...
Sydney Morning Herald
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 17:56:15 -0700

Even when the stare was punctuated by eye contact with a colleague, or a grin of mischievous delight, Jeff "Tain" Watts' drumming remained ferocious. Watts may have shot to prominence 33 years ago with Wynton Marsalis, but he did not end up sharing his ...

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