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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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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 (...

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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.

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http://www.roberthurst.com The Robert Hurst Quintet: Robert Hurst-Bass, Marcus Strickland-Saxophone, David Virelles-Piano, Pepe Espinosa-Percussion, Jeff "Ta...

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28516 videos foundNext > 

9612 news items

KTVU San Francisco

KTVU San Francisco
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 16:45:00 -0800

Jeff "Tain" Watts has long been considered one of the most powerful drummers on the jazz scene. Possessing a truly unique personal style, Watts has demonstrated his versatility with such artists as McCoy Tyner, George Benson, Michael Brecker and many ...
Phoenix New Times (blog)
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 03:25:06 -0800

His latest venture: The Nettwork Trio, any combo of musicians Moffett feels can best explore the divergent aspects of his more than three-decade long career. The current incantation includes guitarist Stanley Jordan and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, past ...
Oroville Mercury Register
Fri, 20 Feb 2015 12:37:30 -0800

SAN JOSE -- Forty years ago, in the heyday of his career, organist Doug Carn put out a series of albums on the Black Jazz record label. They were dynamite, filled with great tunes -- like jazz reflections of Earth, Wind and Fire -- and they had a ...

The Seattle Times

The Seattle Times
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 12:16:59 -0800

Three exceptionally strong jazz acts hit Seattle this week — clarinetist/saxophonist Anat Cohen, performing with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra (SRJO); veteran saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders, with an all-star band that includes drummer Jeff “Tain ...

New York Times

New York Times
Thu, 05 Feb 2015 14:09:01 -0800

The engagement otherwise features acquaintances of longer standing, including two — the trumpeter Ralph Alessi and the drummer Jeff (Tain) Watts — who played on Mr. Coltrane's 1998 debut album, “Moving Pictures.” Anchoring the quintet is the bassist ...
Sydney Morning Herald
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 17:56:19 -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 ...
Fri, 20 Feb 2015 18:02:31 -0800

... and Billy Strayhorn, saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, trumpeters Roy Eldridge and Tommy Turrentine, guitarists Joe Negri, Jimmy Ponder and Ron Affif, bassist Ray Brown and drummers Art Blakey, Joe Harris, Roger Humphries and Jeff “Tain” Watts.


Wed, 04 Feb 2015 10:11:13 -0800

Like Marsalis' longtime drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts Royston plays toward improvised interpretation and percussive leadership. In Dancing Cheek to Cheek, a 1935 song written by Irvin Berlin for the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie Top Hat, Royston ...

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