Personnel: Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums, percussion; Marcus Strickland: tenor and soprano saxophone; Christian McBride: acoustic and electric bass; David Kikoski: pianoforte; Juan Tainish: vocals; David Gilmore: guitar; Henry Hey: keyboards; Samuel Torres: percussion
Tain & the Ebonix - Folk's Songsreleased on the Dark Key Musiclabel contains songs dedicated to friends and influences of Jeff "Tain" Watts. Giving back to his fans, friends, and influences is just one of the many endearing facets of Tain. An extraordinary musician, an in-demand drummer, an innovator of sound, tempo, and pace, and in some circles, he has been called one of the most important drummers of this generation, but with all of this said, Tain remains approachable, humble, and all about the music. To add to the excitement of Tain's latest release, which he had been telling me about for almost 2 years, I had the opportunity to experience Tain & the Ebonix live at The Living Room in New York on April 2007 for his Folk's Songs CD release party.
Folk's Songs starts with Samo ©, which Jeff has dedicated to Jean Michel Basquiat. Born in the same year, their rise to fame seemed to parallel one another. Jean Michel Basquiat's influence, a Neo-expressionist movement artist who died at just 28, shows that Tain's creativity draws from all of his senses and experiences. The groove between the saxophone and the drums contains the feeling of rebellion, creativity, and peace, which may have been the state of mind of Jean Michel Basquiat as he spray-painted his way from graffiti, with the now famous spray-painted "Samo" (same ol' ...), to fame. Track 2, Rotation, is dedicated to Tain's former band mate, saxophonist Dewey Redman. What better track than a free-flowing Keith Jarrett song to play in memory of one of America's foremost free jazz musicians. Tain shows off his skills as he tackles Keith Jarrett's improvisational style with its characteristic departure from standard chord changes and tempo, and Marcus Strickland and Tain are up to the challenge. Ling's Lope shows some swing and takes the tempo down as Tain dedicated this track to his longtime friend Branford Marsalis. Seed of Blakzilla is definitely a fun and rollicking track that fits perfectly as Tain dedicates this to comedian Dave Chappelle. Transitioning tracks, like only Tain can do with his beat and music, he follows Seed of Blakzilla with the romantic Laura Elizabeth, which is a tribute to trumpeter Laura Kahle. Staying with this change in tempo, the band rolls into the ghostly 'hymn-like' track - Galilee, this track is in memory of pianist James Williams, another young talent who passed on before his time. The release rounds out with Blues 4 Curtis, a tip-of-the-hat to Curtis Mayfield;Same Page, which is a tribute to the Citizens of Earth; and Blasphemy, which is a dual tribute to drummer Don Alias, and composer Kenny Kirkland.