Jazz CD Reviews
Jeff “Tain” Watts – Watts – Dark Key Music
Published on March 8, 2009
(Jeff “Tain” Watts, drums; Terence Blanchard, trumpet; Branford Marsalis, saxophone; Christian McBride, acoustic bass: Lawrence Fields, piano on Owed)
Jeff “Tain” Watts is a definite first-string drummer, near the head of the pack of the under age-40 stick men. He plays with much power and brings to mind Tony Williams as having such a strong immediate influence at an early stage of his jazz career. He certainly brings a first rate group of musicians along on Watts, each a major bandleader in their own right.
Watts has much to recommend, but some of his compositions border on the questionable. The opening track, Return of the Jitney Man, takes off on a tear with Marsalis pushing the pace and Watts right behind pounding away. It left me a bit cold. Brecky with Drekky (certainly the first of some odd named tracks.) continues the post bop vein and Marsalis has a distinctive blues driven solo.
Katrina James provides more opportunity for Marsalis to wail and Terence Blanchard matches Branford in intensity. The ballad, Owed, follows and greatly changes the pace, with a sweet soprano sax mix of Marsalis, and guest pianist, Lawrence Fields. McBride provides upfront bass comping and Watts’ drum work provides perfect accompaniment.
Dancin 4 Chicken plays around with the blues with fine Arco bass work of McBride and a chance for all members to get a bite of that funky bird. Wry Koln is a Watts’ vehicle to showcase his drum talents, while all hell breaks loose with the front line. Dingle Dangle features Blanchard’s talents on the trumpet, and even more so, McBride’s walking his bass. Some restraint by Watts would have made this track more interesting as he steps on Blanchard’s lines a bit much for my taste. The last three tracks are the weakest and simply supply filler. Watts had the potential for a more coherent and polished product, but it appears that “Tain” had more of a concept CD in mind and in this respect he only gets a minimally passing grade.
TrackList: Return of the Jitney Man, Brekky with Drecky, Katrina James, Owed…, Dancin’ 4 Chicken, Wry Koln, Dingle-Dangle, Devil’s Ring Tone, m’buzai, The Devils Ring Tone (Reprise)
– Jeff Krow