Five more reasons why America’s classical music is alive, well, and ready to do some damage:
JEFF “TAIN” WATTS
(Dark Key Music, 2011)
Branford Marsalis’ longtime drummer builds a great new level onto his own career as a leader, literally swinging from 2009’s rage-fueled haymaker “Watts” to a joyous, multi-faceted set of originals inspired by family, friends, and associates. Tain’s solo on the staggering “Of August Moon” captures the intensity of one of the greatest playwrights ever, “Little Michael” is the only tribute to the King of Pop that doesn’t make me reach for the Advil, and the back-to-back “Edwardian Overture” and “Jonesin’ (for Elvin)” nail two of the giants that cleared the way for Watts. Steve Wilson’s reedwork is absolutely knockout, and pianist/career sideman David Kikoski may have found the venue where his epic talents can truly be appreciated. Fellow Branford alum James Genus contributes sassy bass all the way through, and leaves room for Tain to be Tain, which is always sweet. “Family” will always make you smile, and how many times can you say that sentence and really mean it?