235

Jeff "Tain" Watts: Watts

By

Sign in to view read count
Jeff "Tain" Watts: Watts The title of drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts new CD, Watts, isn't as superficial as it seems. While referring naturally to the leader, it also recalls the site of the apocalyptic riots in 1965, a neighborhood that produced jazz legend Charles Mingus. This is important because the tunes on the disc, written by Watts, are reverential, referential and have a satirical edge that echoes some of Mingus' finest moments.

This disc reteams Watts with his longtime partners in crime: sax titan Branford Marsalis, bassist Christian McBride and trumpeter Terence Blanchard. Watts pays immediate homage to his Pittsburgh roots with "Return of the Jitney Man," setting a fierce pace for Marsalis' lightning quick tenor and Blanchard's vibrato rich trumpet. The blues "Brekky with Drekky," a tribute to the late Michael Brecker, has more solid tenor by Marsalis. Watts himself pays homage to Max Roach and Elvin Jones with the passionate drum solo "M'Buzai." The satirical tunes here are sharp without the messages overshadowing the music. The funky "Katrina James," for example, is James Brown meets Dixieland— danceable protest music. McBride's gutbucket arco on the gospel-tinged Uncle Tom indictment, "Dancin' 4 Chicken," is brilliant. "The Devil's Ring Tone - The Movie" is a sneering indictment of the former American President, with a New Orleans funeral segment that is at once a joyful goodbye and another reference to the Katrina debacle.

This quartet played a set in front of a packed house at Le Poisson Rouge as the highlight of the NYC Winter Jazzfest in January, 2009. All of the members were present, with Marsalis billed as his alter ego, Prometheus Jenkins. Over two hours the band performed the entire album. With a Pittsburgh Steelers doll at hand for inspiration, Watts claimed that the band hadn't played together since recording the album but the chemistry was dynamite from the top. Marsalis blew tirelessly throughout the set and Blanchard, who flew in from New Orleans for the gig, actually stood on his tip-toes to coax high notes from his trumpet a few times. With the crowd energy behind them, the band's blistering live version of "Dancin' 4 Chicken" actually surpassed the studio take. The ballad "Owed..." is the only tune with a piano, with lyrical keyboard work by guest star Lawrence Fields, who played the song as gently as a lullaby, Marsalis accompanying on his typically lovely soprano. Watts playfully described "Dingle-Dangle" as "the lazy man's "Trinkle Tinkle" and his clever arrangement smoothed the brilliant corners of Monk's classic without diluting its character. This pride of once-young lions are all standard bearers now, ascending gradually toward elder statesmanship. For one very special night, it was exciting to hear them in their prime.

Track Listing: Return of the Jitney Man; Brekky With Drecky; Katrina James; Owed...; Dancin' 4 Chicken; Wry Koln; Dingle

Personnel: Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums; Branford Marsalis: saxophones; Terence Blanchard: trumpet; Christian McBride: acoustic bass; Lawrence Fields: piano (4).

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Dark Key Music | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Pathways CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Landing CD/LP/Track Review Landing
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Words And Music CD/LP/Track Review Words And Music
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Faces CD/LP/Track Review Faces
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves CD/LP/Track Review Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves
by Duncan Heining
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Petite Afrique CD/LP/Track Review Petite Afrique
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Choice" CD/LP/Track Review Choice
by Dave Wayne
Published: October 7, 2016
Read "Tributango" CD/LP/Track Review Tributango
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 13, 2016
Read "Mata Hati" CD/LP/Track Review Mata Hati
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 10, 2017
Read "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 1, 2016
Read "The Broader Picture" CD/LP/Track Review The Broader Picture
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 8, 2016
Read "PointCounterPoint" CD/LP/Track Review PointCounterPoint
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 7, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!