Sometimes all you have to do is mention a nickname, and others will know exactly who you’re talking about — starting with Bird, Diz, Trane and Prez, and continuing to the present day. When someone says “Tain,” you know they’re talking about one of the most important drummers of the past 40 years.

Jeff “Tain” Watts has performed with the who’s who of jazz: Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Betty Carter, Michael Brecker, George Benson, McCoy Tyner, Harry Connick Jr., Alice Coltrane, Geri Allen, Kenny Garrett… the list goes on and on. He’s truly redefined the way the drums are both played and heard, and he has helped lead the way for drummers moving from the sideman chair to that of the bandleader. With close to a dozen recordings under his own name, Tain is respected as much for his compositions as for his drumming.

The multiple Grammy Award winner is bringing his trio to Hugh’s Room Live on Saturday, March 14.

He joined us for a conversation about what inspires him, how he approaches composition and how he chooses a band.