Jeff "Tain" Watts: Return of the Jitney Man
Return of the Jitney Man
Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums)
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