Drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, who spark-plugged bands of both Marsalis brothers, Harry Connick Jr., and the late Michael Brecker, is back with his sixth disc as leader. Watts is a little unusual in that it’s a quartet session without a chordal instrument that is, no piano or guitar. The lineup: Branford Marsalis, saxophones, Terrence Blanchard, trumpet, and Christian McBride, bass (with pianist Lawrence Field on one tune). While, as a whole, it has a somewhat stark tone (occasionally recalling the early Ornette Coleman albums on Atlantic), Watts is loaded with variety and joie de vivre.
"Brekky With Drecky" is a nifty cross between the dry-martini cool of Paul Desmond and the blues-charged astringency of late ‘50s/early ‘60s Sonny Rollins it’s easy to imagine this in a soundtrack to a neo-film noir mystery from the 50s. The sly, wry suite-like "The Devil’s Ring Tone" features a taste of rich, evocative Duke Ellington-style melody; tart, frenetic (though not really "free" or "out") soloing, hard swing, a tip o’ the fedora to old-school New Orleans jazz, and drumming that crashes ‘n’ rubbles like the morning surf. "Dingle-Dangle" has some delicious blues playing. Watts
is sharp and provocative without being a chore to listen to a winner.