Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

217

Tain & the Ebonix: Folk's Songs

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Jeff "Tain" Watts, the most vivacious drummer to emerge from the much ballyhooed "young lions phenomenon of the early 1980s, has reached beyond traditional hard-bop to embrace the diverse stylistic influences that inspire him. His straight-ahead credentials are well-documented on seminal records from Wynton and Branford Marsalis. The ensuing years have found him exploring more adventurous territory, supporting Geri Allen, Steve Coleman, Alice Coltrane and Greg Osby.

Watt's current quartet, the awkwardly named Tain & the Ebonix, present a varied but not overly eclectic program of solid mainstream jazz spiced with an edgy bite. Up-and-coming saxophonist Marcus Strickland (Roy Haynes, Dave Douglas) plays with soulful gusto and chromatic intensity. His fractured delivery on Jarrett's "Rotation" (dedicated to Dewey Redman) invokes the great tenor in spirit without aping his distinctive delivery. Stalwart bassist Christian McBride offers more than virtuosic support; whether unfurling electric rivulets or bowing resonant arco lines on his trusty upright, his accompaniment is tasteful and unobtrusive. Pianist David Kikoski offers advanced harmonic accompaniment, filling the void left by Watts' close associate, the late Kenny Kirkland.

Burning post-bop is still Watts' forte; "Samo" opens the album with empathetic group interplay and dynamic interaction. "Ling's Lope" (dedicated to Branford Marsalis) combines Monkish quirkiness with a slinky groove, while the riotous "Seed of Blackzilla" stuns with its elastic, polyrhythmic drive, fiery solos and undulating collective energy.

Invoking Keith Jarrett's renowned 1970s American Quartet, two freewheeling versions of "Rotation" push the boundaries of tradition to the breaking point, both featuring compelling solos from the leader. Journeying into exotic territory, Kirkland's "Blasphemy" borrows Afro-Cuban sensibilities with plucky percussive accompaniment and a loping, bittersweet melody.

Not everything is roiling modernism and pulverizing swing; "Laura Elizabeth" and "Galilee" are tender ballads, providing sonic respite. "Blues 4 Curtis" (dedicated to Curtis Mayfield) adds Henry Hey's simmering Rhodes and David Gilmore's surly electric guitar for a joyous, amplified rave-up. Modulating between a grinding funk vamp and pumping roadhouse blues, it reveals the true kinetic potential of the former Tonight Show drummer.

Eclectic collections are rarely without missteps however. The pedestrian funk of "Same Page..." (featuring Watts' vocal cameo as Juan Tainish) is an incongruous but thankfully brief break in the album's otherwise compelling pacing. Overall, Folks' Music is a splendid example of mainstream jazz that subtly stretches beyond conservative notions of the tradition.


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 saxophone; Christian McBride: acoustic and electric bass; David Kikoski: piano; Henry Key: keyboards (6, 7, 10); David Gilmore: guitar (7, 9); Samuel Torres: percussion (10); Juan Tainish: vocals (9).

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


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "This Is The Uplifting Part" CD/LP/Track Review This Is The Uplifting Part
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "Truth, Liberty & Soul Live in New York: The Complete NPR Jazz Alive! Recording" CD/LP/Track Review Truth, Liberty & Soul Live in New York: The Complete...
by John Kelman
Published: May 20, 2017
Read "Telepathy & Bop" CD/LP/Track Review Telepathy & Bop
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 5, 2017
Read "As The Wind" CD/LP/Track Review As The Wind
by John Eyles
Published: January 12, 2017
Read "Nocturno" CD/LP/Track Review Nocturno
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 9, 2017
Read "Currents 0" CD/LP/Track Review Currents 0
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 18, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!