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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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26166 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 ...mo...

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/

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 (...

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 ...

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...

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...

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 ...

26166 videos foundNext > 

353 news items

San Jose Mercury News
Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:52:30 -0800

Howell created Sudden Changes as a vehicle to collaborate with his 16-year-old son, Ele Howell, a prodigiously talented drummer. Mentored by drummer Jack Dorsey at the Oaktown Jazz Workshop, young Howell has taken lessons with Jeff "Tain" Watts and ...
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 ...


Tue, 20 Jan 2015 08:18:45 -0800

It's also the birthday of two drummers – Jeff Tain Watts and the legendary Jimmy Cobb. Cobb is the last living member of the Kind of Blue sessions. In hour one, we'll hear music from some of his latest projects and hour two it's a special about the ...
Fri, 16 Jan 2015 13:08:19 -0800

He is working hard to join the line of Pittsburgh stickmen that goes from Kenny Clarke to Roger Humphries to Jeff “Tain” Watts. He will be joined by trombonist Jeff Bush, pianist Cliff Barnes and bassist Paul Thompson. The gig is one of the Pittsburgh ...
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 ...

The Nation

The Nation
Fri, 16 Jan 2015 09:03:45 -0800

International jazz artists Jeff "Tain" Watts, Lage Lund, and George Garzone are among the headliners at the 2015 edition of the Thailand International Jazz Conference taking place at the College of Music, Mahidol University's Salaya Campus from January ...
South China Morning Post (subscription)
Sat, 17 Jan 2015 06:15:00 -0800

He recorded and gigged with some A-list international jazz names, including pianist Joey Calderazzo and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, and established his own record label, Lost Chart Records. He moved to Hong Kong full-time on June 1, 2000, and after a ...
Cross Rhythms
Mon, 05 Jan 2015 01:45:00 -0800

This was a spiritually minded quartet project on which he was joined by Xavier Davis (piano), John Benítez (bass) and Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums). 'True Life Stories', his third Criss Cross album, came out in 2006 and featured Pelt (trumpet), Xavier ...

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