Dark Key Music is proud to present Blue, Vol. 1 - the new album by Jeff “Tain” Watts, recorded at Tain’s recording studio, a former church in Easton, Pennsylvania. Blue is part one in a series, with the second installment coming later in 2015. The focus of these recordings is mostly blues and ballads, with an overall dedication to Jeff's mother, Marie Lewis Watts, who passed away in 2012.
Leading off with his arrangement of Thelonious Monk’s Brilliant Corners, Tain sets the mood straight. Vivacious modular beats and rhythmic hooks take us on a journey led by the drum set enlisting David Budway (pno), Troy Roberts (sax) and Neal Caine at the bass. Taking cues from Monk’s original recording which changed tempo during the solos, Tain transitions effortlessly from funk through medium swing to up tempo tip and back again.
"Come on down and get some red beans. Way down yonder in New Orleans" heralds the funky second line beat and rabble of Farley Strange. There’s a nice new cast of cats making appearances here, notably Paul Bollenback (gtr), James Francies (pno), Orlando le Fleming (bs) and horn section of Troy Roberts (ts), Kenyatta Beasley (tpt) and Clark Gayton (tbn/tba).
Hearing the first few tones of Frank McComb brings us into the comfy chair, but don’t chill too long, May 15, 2011 calls in Christian McBride, Osmany Paredes, Mark Whitfield and Luisito Quintero to the rhythm section, putting you back on your feet.
Just when you think the hits might be through, Tain brings us his powerful musical and vocal adaptation of Driva Man by Max Roach and Oscar Brown Jr.. Originally interpreted by the great Abbey Lincoln, Ku-umba Frank Lacy sings courageously here, with solos by Troy Roberts (ts) and young James Francies (pno).
The epic polymetric swinger Blues For Mr. Charley is another ode to the slave master; a nod to the great African American writer James Baldwin, with a dedication to Amiri Baraka and fellow drummer Charley Drayton. This quartet with Osmany Paredes (pno), Troy Roberts (ts) and Chris Smith (bs) is also featured on the following three tracks.
Faux Paul, an elegant ballad dedicated to both the late drummer/composer Paul Motian, and Allyson Paul, a dear friend of the scene. It features Gregoire in fine form and highlights Tain’s sincere and melodic pen. Again including Gregoire Maret are two instrumental avant leaning compositions inspired by Tain's daughters, Flip & Dip and Brainlifter. Challenging the listener, while delving deeper into the complex range of Tain’s palate, these jams swing and dig ala Ornette.
Closing out with the plaintive ballad Reverie (for Marie), Blue showcases Tain’s compositional range while hinting at a future as producer with his own studio. Says Jeff: "We look forward to exploring and refining each step of documenting music." The sky’s the limit !!
Available now here: