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Manu Katche: Live in Concert

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Manu Katché has left ECM after four records, and his new album, Live in Concert, showcases a slightly more aggressive side of the drummer, who is a Frenchman with African roots. The disc, recorded at the New Morning jazz club in Paris, contains nine songs, all drawn from his previous three albums and all a buoyant celebration of life. Rock listeners know Katché from his work with Peter Gabriel, Sting, Tears for Fears and others, and a pop sensibility definitely infiltrates his work. But though his own compositions rock more than swing, his group’s performance revolves around a profound dedication to improvisation and dynamic interplay.

The cast features Luca Aquino on trumpet, Tore Brunborg on saxophones and synth bass and Jim Watson on piano and Hammond B3 organ. The evening begins with four thoughtful but happy pieces with lovely melodies. Look at the titles and you’ll get the idea: “Pieces of Emotion,” “Shine and Blue,” “Song for Her” and “Loving You.” The centerpiece of the album, a 10-minute version of “Clubbing,” finds Katché grooving deeper than ever, pounding hard and changing the rhythmic pattern by the bar, almost to the point where he goes full Muppet Show Animal over Watson’s supercharged, swelling organ. “Beats and Bounce” is equally volatile, with thick and funky bass, two-fisted piano and drums bashed to oblivion. At the end of “Snapshot,” Katché has the audience vocalizing along with the music; when the music stops they keep singing the five-note chant, and presumably they continued to do so as they emptied out into the streets of Paris. It isn’t difficult to see why.

Originally Published