The search for that “Blue” note was on. The soundtrack of the music of our lives included James Brown, the Jackson Five , Earth, Wind and Fire as well as numerous others added to that funkiness that Jeff developed as a drummer. In addition, that Pittsburgh drumming legacy, that unique groove has been influential.
Jeff’s versatility not only comes from the influences mentioned but also from earlier training in Classical percussion at Duquesne University. The stars also just happened to be in alignment when he met Wynton Marsalis and his brother Branford. It was like this meeting was meant to be. While in Boston, “Tain” was also meeting many of the young players of the day. Each and every one of them have been instrumental in the current shaping of this music we know as Jazz. His role as a sideman has also driven the rhythm section in the bands of the Tonight Show, Alice Coltrane, Geri Allen, George Benson, Jerry Gonzalez, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis and Mc Coy Tyner just to mention a few. This hard work has resulted in six Grammy Awards and numerous awards as Best Drummer.
In 2006 Jeff established Dark Key Music, his own record label. He explains that, “The main thing about this label is I can write music and I can put it out when I want to put it out.” Maintaining complete control this has resulted in four releases so far. His latest release is “Blue, Vol.1” an excursion with his current touring band and guests such as Christian McBride, Frank McComb and Mark Whitfield. The nine selections include seven original compositions, a Thelonious Monk tune (Brilliant Colors) and a song written by Max Roach / Oscar Brown Jr. (Driva Man). Brilliant Colors features some outstanding work by fellow Pittsburgher David Budway on piano and tenor sax man Troy Roberts. Other standout cuts are “Farley Strange”, “Flip and Dip” and ‘Brainlifter”. Two vocal tunes include Ku-umba Frank Lacy on “Driva Man and the phenomenal Frank McComb on “May 15, 2011”. Gregory Maret is featured on harmonica on “Faux Paul” as well as two other compositions by Jeff.
Jeff Watts continues to carry the torch of Pittsburgh Jazz drummers and showing us the “blue note” though his great work. To find out more about Jeff ‘Tain” Watts go to: http://www.tainish.com/.
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