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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.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

567 news items

Jazzwise magazine
Fri, 19 Jun 2015 08:22:33 -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 ...


Thu, 16 Jul 2015 21:07:30 -0700

Drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts might have had the hardest job of all. Since Elvin Jones was such a legendary timekeeper, and no drummer since has danced atop those cymbals with the exact kind of light-lighter-lightest touch, Watts went in another direction.


Tue, 14 Jul 2015 07:03:45 -0700

On the new single from Supreme Sonacy (Vol. 1), a compilation album by the legendary Blue Note Records and New York fixture Revive Music, saxophonist/clarinetist Marcus Strickland and vocalist Christie Dashiell beautifully cover “Let's Wait Awhile,” a ...

Public Radio Tulsa

Public Radio Tulsa
Fri, 17 Jul 2015 21:41:15 -0700

Please join us for a program that will also feature music by James Moody, Geri Allen, Jeff "Tain" Watts, and several others. If you're a jazz fan, then All This Jazz is your ball of wax, for sure. (And two final points: ATJ playlist information can ...
Jazzwise magazine
Mon, 13 Jul 2015 05:51:39 -0700

This year's programme ranges from the big guns of Brazilian music such as Marcos Valle to cutting edge contemporary jazz from the high octane Nettwork Trio [Jeff 'Tain' Watts, Stanley Jordan and Charnett Moffet] and the inventive duo of Marcus Gilmore ...
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 ...

The 405

The 405
Mon, 29 Jun 2015 06:30:00 -0700

Intense organic drums, warped organ feels and skewed samples from Liverpool-based beatmaker Rudy nme. Atmospheric, hot-skinned, sweat-dripping jazz fire in 'Driva Man' by Jeff "Tain" Watts featuring trombonist Ku-umba Frank Lacy. That's all for today ...

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 ...

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