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Jeff "Tain" Watts

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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 Gilmore, 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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500 news items

Louisiana Weekly

Louisiana Weekly
Mon, 02 Nov 2015 12:03:45 -0800

Jeff “Tain” Watts has both played and recorded with all of the musical Marsalis brothers – trumpeter Wynton, saxophonist Branford, trombonist Delfeayo and drummer/vibraphonist Jason – as well as family patriarch pianist Ellis Marsalis. Not bad for a ...
New York Times
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 06:15:00 -0800

Tain + the Strain (Friday and Saturday) The powerfully propulsive drummer Jeff (Tain) Watts has been doubling down as a bandleader and composer, most recently on a self-released album titled “Blue, Vol. 1.” He appears here with a band that includes ...


Fri, 20 Nov 2015 19:46:49 -0800

Grammy award-winning jazz artist Esperanza Spalding formed one of the best trios in the genre last night, performing with pianist Geri Allen and three-time Grammy Award-winning drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. It was the first of Esperanza's four ...


Thu, 19 Nov 2015 12:48:45 -0800

... James Genus, Jeff Goldblum, Dave Grusin, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Heath, Lisa Henry, Paul Jackson, Jr., Al Jarreau, Justin Kauflin, Hubert Laws, Ledisi, Seth MacFarlane, Gretchen Parlato, Arturo Sandoval, Luciana Souza, Wayne Shorter, Jeff 'Tain ...

Jazz Police (blog)

Jazz Police (blog)
Wed, 18 Nov 2015 09:48:25 -0800

Other highlights of the Gala Concert included the multitalented Seth MacFarlane revealing his vocal ability on “Come Fly with Me” with pianist John Beasley, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts. In another segment of the show, the ...
Tue, 17 Nov 2015 15:17:57 -0800

Spalding concludes her first week of the season with the West Coast debut of an all-star trio featuring Beninese guitar star Lionel Loueke and one of the jazz world's most influential drummers, Jeff “Tain” Watts." SFJAZZ, 201 Franklin Street, 7:30 p.m ...
Sat, 31 Oct 2015 14:33:45 -0700

Many of them have 'Burgh-based titles such as “Coming Home to Pittsburgh” or “Talkin' With 'Tain' ” dedicated to Jeff “Tain” Watts, the Pittsburgh native who has elevated himself to a high spot in the world of jazz. Then there is “RH Thursday,” a ...
Jazzwise magazine
Fri, 19 Jun 2015 08:22:30 -0700

Also appearing is US the power trio of virtuoso bassist Charnett Moffett, guitarist/pianist Stanley Jordan and heavy-hitting drummer Jeff 'Tain' Watts, collectively known as the Nettwork Trio (pictured top), who explore an energetic take on free ...

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