177

Tain & the Ebonix: Folk's Songs

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
Tain & the Ebonix: Folk's Songs
There are tribute albums, and then there's Folk's Songs, Jeff "Tain Watts' debut release on Dark Key Music under the group name Tain & the Ebonix. Rather than the typical collection of remakes, Watts delivers seven original compositions among the ten songs that honor people who have influenced and inspired him.

Tain & the Ebonix are Watts on drums and percussion, everyman Christian McBride on bass, Marcus Strickland on saxophones and David Kikoski on piano. The ensemble is joined on selected tracks by guitarist David Gilmore, keyboardist Henry Hey, percussionist Samuel Torres and vocalist Juan Tainish.

A Pittsburgh native, Watts has an extensive career that includes his distinction of being the only musician to appear on every Grammy-winning recording by both Wynton and Branford Marsalis. In addition to the Marsalis brothers, Watts has shared the stage or studio with such artists as Kenny Garrett, Kenny Kirkland, Courtney Pine, Geri Allen, Alice Coltrane, Better Carter and Michael Brecker. He also spent three years on NBC's The Tonight Show, and had an acting part in Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues (1990).

One of the originals, "Samo, begins quietly but soon picks up energy and emotion. Watts wastes no time showing why he's been in such demand, employing his entire kit instead of relying primarily on the hi-hat, snare and bass. Strickland delivers a blistering tenor sax solo during the song's climax.

The swinging, bluesy "Ling's Hope is a tribute to Branford Marsalis. Watts works the snare and cymbals more on this one. Strickland performs another engaging solo and carries the melody, complemented largely by Kikoski. Strickland shifts to the soprano sax for "Laura Elizabeth, a ballad in honor Laura Kahle, a trumpet player who arranged music for Watts in 2005 and worked with him and Wynton Marsalis in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. The track is highlighted by Strickland's lead, and a solo by Kikoski.

One of the more engaging selections is "Blues 4 Curtis, a nine-minute dedication to groundbreaking composer/musician/singer Curtis Mayfield. All musicians, including Gilmore and Hey, get an opportunity to shine here. Gilmore sets a rhythm with effects similar to those employed by Mayfield during his Superfly (Curtom, 1972) days. Hey's keyboard work adds an element of funk to an already soulful jam. The song is a powerful throwback to the 1960s and '70s, when Mayfield was in his prime.

From start to finish, Watts and his sidemen are in the groove. They play it straight, with no gimmicky chasers. Folk's Songs is as honest as it gets—music for art's sake.

Track Listing

Samo; Rotation; Ling's Lope; Seed of Blackzilla; Laura Elizabeth; Galilee; Blues 4 Curtis; Rotation II; Same Page

Personnel

Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums, percussion; Marcus Strickland: tenor and soprano sax; Christian McBride: acoustic and electric bass; David Kikoski: piano; Juan Tanish: vocals (9); David Gilmore: guitar (7, 9); Henry Hey: keyboards (6, 7, 10); Samuel Torres: percussion (10).

Album information

Title: Folk's Songs | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Dark Key Music

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.