Watts, Jeff “Tain”
- Matthew Alan Thomas
(b Pittsburgh, PA, Jan 20, 1960). American percussionist. He began playing snare drum at nine years old and performed with the Pittsburgh Youth SO as a teenager. He studied classical percussion at Duquesne University before transferring to Berklee College of Music, where he met Kevin Eubanks, Branford Marsalis, and Wallace Roney. He frequently performed on vibraphone as a Berklee student and played with Marvin “Smitty” Smith in the school’s fusion ensemble. Watts recorded and toured regularly with Wynton Marsalis’s quintet (1982–8). His acting debut came when he was invited to play the role of fictional drummer Rhythm Jones in Spike Lee’s film Mo’ Better Blues (1990).
Watts collaborated with pianist Kenny Kirkland and bassist Charles Fambrough on his first album as bandleader Megawatts (1991, Sunnyside). After making several recordings with Branford Marsalis, Watts moved to Los Angeles to play with Branford in the Tonight Show Band (...