The breakout album for Wynton Marsalis in 1985 was Black Codes (From the Underground), and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts's furious and finnessed volcanic drumming helped define it as a classic. Playing with Branford Marsalis through numerous recordings and The Tonight Show further spotlighted Watts's talents. Which brings us to this major-label debut, which reunites the spirit of the Black Codes ensemble, teaming the Marsalis brothers, the late pianist Kenny Kirkland, bassist Reginald Veal, trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis, and alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett. Watts is one of the few drummers who took Elvin Jones's concepts and made his own statements with them. Watts not only plays the drums but inspires the rhythmic impetus in his fellow bandmates, as evidenced by the mercurial improvisations from Wynton and Branford on the neo-classic "The Impaler" and the Latinesque "Why Koln?" Thelonious Monk's sidestepping soft-shoe rhythms are the main course on "Muphkin Man," courtesy of Kirkland's sanctified pianisms, and "Attainment" sounds like it was the missing track from John Coltrane's classic Love Supreme album. Watts's cymbal shimmers radiate on the plaintive lullaby waltz "Pools of Amber," and Watts brings the turbulent '60s from his drum kit to your eardrums on the "Destruction & Rebirth Suite." "Blutain Jr." is a blues that rolls with a catchy, hot-potato melody that is augmented on "Blutain's Big Adventure." Throughout the recording Watts maintains the high level of restraint and creativity that makes him the celebrated musician that he is. --Eugene Holley Jr.