Jeff “Tain” Watts majored in classical percussion at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University where he was primarily a timpanist. He later attended Berklee School of Music. He joined the Wynton Marsalis Quartet in 1981 and proceeded to win three Grammy Awards with the ensemble for Black Codes From The Underground, J Mood and Marsalis Standard Time. Watts left Wynton Marsalis in 1988. After working with George Benson, Harry Connick. Jr. and McCoy Tyner, he joined the Branford Marsalis Quartet in 1989, winning Grammys for I Heard You Twice the First Time and Contemporary Jazz. He has an extensive discography as a sideman and ten albums as a leader.
In the film and television industry, Watts has appeared as a musician on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and as an actor in Spike Lee’s Mo Better Blues. He joined Kenny Garrett’s band after returning to New York in 1995 and continued to record and tour with Branford Marsalis as well as Danilo Perez, Michael Brecker, Betty Carter, Kenny Kirkland, Courtney Pine, Geri Allen, Alice Coltrane, Greg Osby, McCoy Tyner, Steve Coleman, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Harry Connick Jr, and Ravi Coltrane.
Along with explosive power, blinding speed and mastery of complex rhythms and time signatures, Watts brings a rare sense of elegance, tried-by-fire composure, and a gritty street funk to his music. His artistic ingenuity expresses itself in his incomparable technique, sense of swing, and an extraordinary ability to imbue his music with
grace and elegant repose. A true jazz innovator, Watts never fails to deliver.
Jeff “Tain” Watts is a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow in Music Composition, a recipient of seven Grammy awards, and was twice voted Drummer of the Year by Modern Drummer Magazine.
This is Jeff Watt’s first appearance at Litchfield. He is joined her by Trio mates, Orlando le Fleming on bass and world renowned guitarist Paul Bollenback. Paul has a special place in the hearts of fans and campers at Litchfield as a long-time member of the Litchfield Jazz Camp faculty.