Jeff "Tain" Watts: Return of the Jitney Man


Return of the Jitney Man



Watts (DK002)

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Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums), Branford Marsalis (tenor sax), Terence Blanchard (trumpet), Christian McBride (bass).

Composed by Jeff “Tain” Watts


Recorded: New York, July 26-27, 2008


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

If you didn't know the name of the bandleader, you might think the CD title Watts referred to the high-voltage luminescence of the all-star ensemble gathered here. Certainly no one can complain that the wattage—or the Watt-age—isn't high enough on this track. This is clearly the drummer's date. After the melody statement, the waves of percussion overwhelm McBride's bass (perhaps Christian didn't show up the day they did the mix, or maybe the producer, a Mr. J. Watts, decided on the balance), and with no chordal instrument to counter the attack, Tain sounds like a one-man rhythm section. And a fine one at that. Branford Marsalis responds with a very free, very hot solo, and shows he doesn't need conventional chord changes to impart a sense of structure to his improvisations. Blanchard follows in a very aggressive mood, yet I am struck by how beautiful his sound is even when he is trying to be raw and out. In fact, each of these four players comes across as more "out" here than you might expect, given their individual histories and predilections. But while so many "freedom-is-still-now" musical manifestos provide more heat than light, the Watt-age here keeps things bright.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia


  • 1 Georgia Lee // Feb 15, 2009 at 02:45 AM
    Yes! This is a great track...Mr Gioia, you may need a better stereo because to me the bass sounds full and rich, to the point where I really don't miss any chordal instrument. The playing is so killin' by all four musicians, it is pure energy indeed.