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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 54)
Origin Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Genres Jazz
Occupations 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". As a composer, Watts is a creative and innovative force in modern jazz, writing most of the compositions on his 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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16 news items

Buffalo News
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 10:26:15 -0700

What's certainly true is that he is the representative jazz drummer of the generation that came after the successive jazz drum generations of Jack DeJohnette and Jeff “Tain” Watts. The news couldn't be better in Harland's case. Though he's played with ...
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:56:15 -0700

Donora-native Jae Sinnett is one of those drummers whose work climbs its way over the band around him. Like Jeff “Tain” Watts, he constantly produces clever and aggressive thoughts with his drums that are hard to avoid once a listener is aware of them.
Jazz Police
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:52:30 -0700

Ravi Coltrane (son of John and Alice) has taken a remarkable journey over the past two decades, collaborating with jazz greats from McCoy Tyner to Joe Lovano, Ralph Alessi, Geri Allen and Jeff 'Tain' Watts. Electric bassist Matthew Garrison (son of ...
Hartford Courant
Mon, 14 Jul 2014 09:13:06 -0700

Since 2000, Valera has lived and worked in New York City, where he attended the New School before playing with some of area's greats: Jeff "Tain" Watts, John Patitucci, Joel Frahm and many others. Valera's own sextet, New Cuban Express, returns to ...
Buffalo News
Sat, 12 Jul 2014 20:56:15 -0700

With drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts on it, this is one powerhouse jazz quintet (the bassist is Essiet Okon Essiet). The disc was recorded live at New York City's Jazz Standard in 2011. I could have done without the fadeout on the opener ”Gandhi” but, with ...

Twin Cities Daily Planet

Twin Cities Daily Planet
Sun, 13 Jul 2014 14:43:31 -0700

Faulkner's press rolls would have pleased the band's long-time drummer, the great Jeff “Tain” Watts, not to mention, the late master drummer and bandleader Art Blakey. That's ditto for Faulkner's roar on Monk's “52nd Street Theme.” Ellington's “In a ...
The Australian
Mon, 07 Jul 2014 07:38:35 -0700

The program features six-time Grammy-winning drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts and his band; the Australian Art Orchestra performing a Louis Armstrong-inspired show titled Struttin' With Some Barbecue; and solo piano concerts at the Holy Trinity Cathedral with ...
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:19:31 -0700

Its original members were Kenny Kirkland on piano, Robert Hurst on bass and Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums. (Well, there was an earlier version of the quartet, but it always sounded like it was waiting for something to happen. The band's vision coalesced ...

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