Tain & the Ebonix is an exciting, progressive ensemble consisting of four of the most dynamic virtuosos on the jazz scene today: drummer/leader Jeff "Tain" Watts, bassist Christian McBride, pianist David Kikoski and saxophonist Marcus Strickland. On a few tracks, Watts enlists the extraordinary talents of guitarist David Gilmore, percussionist Samuel Torres and Keyboardist Henry Hey.
Watts brings to the session a diverse selection of his own original material and pieces by pianists Keith Jarrett and the late Kenny Kirkland. The opening tracks, "Samo ©" and Jarrett’s "Rotation" implore unabashed displays of spontaneous energy; the combined, aggressive force of Watts, McBride, Kikoski and Strickland is intense and infectious. The bluesy, Thelonius Monk influenced, "Ling’s lope" is contrasted nicely with the free-form romp of "Seed of Blackzilla," a nod to comedian Dave Chappelle. "Laura Elizabeth" and Kirkland’s "Blasphemy" have more of an accessible vibe with strong melodic emphasis. The lengthy "Galilee" has a meditative, spiritual quality with various textural changes.
The momentum changes rather abruptly on the rocked out "Blues for Curtis," dedicated to the late Curtis Mayfield, and "Same Page," featuring the unusual vocalizing of Watts under the pseudonym Juan Tainish. The added presence of Gilmore’s take-no-prisoners guitar playing demonstrates Watts’ expanded palette of musical influence.The camaraderie and energy throughout Folk’s Songs is second to none. Watts and company deliver a challenging, yet highly entertaining set of acrobatic risk taking.