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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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23585 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/

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...

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.

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....

CHARNETT MOFFETT & NettWork featuring Stanley Jordan and Jeff Tain Watts - 2nd set

NettWork Trio featuring Stanley Jordan and Jeff Tain Watts Charnett Moffett - bass Stanley Jordan - guitar, piano Jeff Tain Watts - drums March 20th, 2015 2nd set - Birdland, NYC video &...

Jeff "Tain" Watts Bebop Phrase

Week 50 of a series I'm calling "52 Licks." 1 new jazz phrase for each week. Only a few left! I'm a huge fan of Jeff "Tain" Watts so I was excited to get to this part of the "Magnificent 7"...

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399 news items

Montreal Gazette

Montreal Gazette
Tue, 21 Apr 2015 08:33:47 -0700

Jazz dans la nuit (Gesù, 10:30 p.m.): Stanley Jordan, Jeff (Tain) Watts and Charnett Moffett team up as Nettwork on June 26. Wilco wizard Nels Cline and Julian Lage stage a guitar summit on July 1. Quebec pianist Lorraine Desmarais performs July 2.

Asbury Park Press

Asbury Park Press
Thu, 09 Apr 2015 21:07:30 -0700

On Friday, April 24 the Rutgers Jazz Ensemble One performs at 7:30 p.m. with guest drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, directed by Herwig, and on Saturday, April 25, “Rutgers Day” the Rutgers Mingus Band performs at the College Ave campus in New Brunswick and ...
New York Times
Thu, 02 Apr 2015 15:29:40 -0700

For this turn as a bandleader, he enlists Mr. Lawrence along with another saxophonist, Myron Walden; the bassist Essiet Okon Essiet; and the drummer Jeff (Tain) Watts. At 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., the Iridium, 1650 Broadway, at 51st Street, 212-582-2121, ...


Thu, 09 Apr 2015 12:57:52 -0700

Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Jeff “Tain” Watts' Nettwork Trio and saxophonist Marcus Strickland's Twi-Life Band are among the final acts announced for the 38th annual Atlanta Jazz Festival, scheduled for May 22 to 24 in Piedmont Park.
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 ...

Waterloo Record

Waterloo Record
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 00:41:45 -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 ...
New York Times
Sun, 13 Apr 2014 14:23:27 -0700

The standout tune in the early set at Minton's in Harlem on Wednesday night was a new one, “Brainlifter,” composed by the drummer Jeff (Tain) Watts and briskly demolished by his four-piece band. Built over a gear-shifting groove, it was a maze full of ...

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