A Twist on Tradition: Watts by Jeff “Tain” Watts (Music Review)

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The “Marsalis mafia” of young musical neoconservatives who took jazz by storm in the ’80s keep making vibrant, piquant music that both challenges and enriches tradition. (If only the political neocons had half as much sense and historical scholarship.) On Wattsdrummer “Tain” Watts delivers original compositions that variously enable saxophonist Branford Marsalis and trumpeter Terence Blanchard to joust over rugged post-bop and revel in their New Orleans heritage. Watts is a creatively turbulent timekeeper who pays heed to the tom-tom and bass drums as much as to the cymbals and snares. He turns himself up in the mix and completes the quartet with stentorian superbassist Christian McBride as a worthy rhythmic foil.

This review is from the March-April 2009 issue of Utne Reader.

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