Jeff “Tain” Watts is a multitalented jazz drummer who is equally comfortable in funk, soul, fusion, or whatever is called for on the gig. Born January 20, 1960, in Pittsburgh, Watts has become a major star through his association with the Marsalis brothers, Wynton and Branford, and played on many of their Grammy-winning recordings. He is also known for playing with Jay Leno’s Tonight Show band and has had numerous collaborations with world-class musicians such as Michael Brecker, Ravi Coltrane, Steve Vai, and many more.
Watts studied classical percussion at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, playing mostly tympani, and later enrolled in the Berklee College Of Music, studying alongside musicians Steve Vai, Branford Marsalis, Kevin Eubanks, Greg Osby, and Marvin “Smitty” Smith.
In 1981 Watts joined the Wynton Marsalis Quartet. After winning three Grammys with the group, Watts left the quartet in 1988, and after touring with George Benson for nearly a year, found a home drumming for the Branford Marsalis Quartet.
Watts was in the Quartet's drum chair when the band was asked to become the house band for The Tonight Show With Jay Leno in 1992. In 1995, Watts left The Tonight Show and returned to New York to join Kenny Garrett’s band, while still continuing to record and tour with Branford Marsalis, Michael Brecker, Betty Carter, Kenny Kirkland, Alice Coltrane, and others.
Citizen Tain, Watts’ first solo record with his band Tain & The Ebonix, was released in 1999.
Watts has accomplished his goal of being versatile on the drum set, bringing a funk feel to his swinging jazz compositions, and mastering complicated rhythms and time signatures. He continues to tour and make albums with some of the greats in modern jazz. Tain’s philosophy for his rhythmic role became “As long as it's swinging, and things are in service to the music, then it's valid.”