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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 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". 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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25538 videos foundNext > 

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 (...

Jeff "Tain" Watts Quintet - "The Impaler"

Jeff "Tain" Watts Quintet at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center Santa Cruz, California.

Modern Drummer Festival 2011: Jeff "Tain" Watts

More information at http://www.hudsonmusic.com/hudson/products/modern-drummer-festival-2011! The Modern Drummer Festival™ 2011 full DVD/video set features Gi...

Tain Watts Solo

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.

Robert Hurst at the Jazz Standard

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

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 ...

Jeff "Tain" Watts Behind the Notes Interview (Part 1)

Part 1 of a sit down interview with drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts.

Branford Marsalis Quartet & Joshua Redman - Doctone (Newport 1999)

"Doctone" composed by Branford Marsalis. Branford Marsalis - Tenor Saxophone Joshua Redman - Tenor Saxophone Joey Calderazzo - Piano Eric Revis - Bass Jeff "...

Michael Brecker quartet Terrassa jazz festival 1999 par1

Michael Brecker, tenor sax; Joey Calderazzo, piano; James Genus, bass; Jeff "Tain" Watts, drums; Terrassa jazz festival 1999 (Spain)

Jeff Tain Watts - Mr J.J. (Live)

From The Album - Detained at the Blue Note 2004 Kenny Garrett - Alto Sax Marcus Strickland - Tenor Sax David Kikoski - Piano, Synthesizer David Gilmour - Gui...

25538 videos foundNext > 

7 news items


Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:52:30 -0700

“They're still playing it on the radio after two years,” Anderson said before listing off such stellar contributing artists as Kenny Garrett, Wallace Roney, Jeff “Tain” Watts, and even a couple of folks who were there in the flesh at A Place for Jazz ...
New York Times
Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:43:32 -0700

What's not in question is the responsive agility of their rhythm section, consisting of Ms. Allen, the bassist Reggie Workman and the drummer Jeff (Tain) Watts. At 8 and 10:30 p.m., Blue Note, 131 West Third Street, Greenwich Village, 212-475-8592, ...

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Thu, 11 Sep 2014 06:46:18 -0700

International headliners include six-time Grammy Award winning Jeff 'Tain' Watts, flugelhorn maestro Enrico Rava from Italy, American trumpeter Laura Watts, saxophonist Lisa Parrott and bands Spoke from the US and New Zealand's Hip Flask. Local talents ...
Jazz Police (blog)
Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:42:30 -0700

... Hekselman has developed a stellar reputation over his first decade in New York, sharing the stage with such notables as Chris Potter, Mark Turner, John Scofield, Anat Cohen, Ari Hoenig, Esperanza Spalding, Gretchen Parlato, Jeff 'Tain' Watts and more.

Diari de Girona

Diari de Girona
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 20:56:15 -0700

A nivell internacional destaca la presència al certamen del quartet del saxofonista suec Håkan Broström, que tindrà la col·laboració de les figures del jazz nord-americà Joey Calderazzo i Jeff Tain Watts. També tindrà un paper protagonista la formació ...
Diari de Girona
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 08:45:00 -0700

En l'apartat internacional, destaca l'actuació del quartet del saxofonista suec Håkan Broström, al costat de figures del jazz nord-americà com Joey Calderazzo i Jeff 'Tain' Watts, que ha tocat al costat d'artistes com Herbie Hancock, Joe Lovano i els germans ...

Jornal do Brasil

Jornal do Brasil
Sat, 06 Sep 2014 03:41:15 -0700

Seus parceiros são músicos de grande prestígio na cena jazzística: o mestre da bateria Jeff “Tain” Watts; o pianista venezuelano Benito Gonzalez, que conquistou Nova York depois de vencer, em 2005, a Great American Jazz Piano Competition; o baixista ...

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