Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Manu Katche and Playground

For those of you looking for new music, I recommend Manu Katche’s Playground. A French drummer, Manu Katche is known for backing up musicians like Jan Garbarek and Sting. Primarily a jazz drummer, he has now released two jazz albums under his name on the ECM label. Playground, his new CD, was released in September.

Someone picking up a CD in which the drummer is the leader would probably expect to hear an emphasis on the drumming and several drum solos; Katche, on the other hand, seems similar to other contemporary jazz musicians in Europe who prefer not to solo. Norwegian saxophonist Trygve Seim , in describing his own attitude against soloing, and who appears on Playground, says, “I don’t find soloing in the traditional manner particularly interesting; so often it’s more about showing off.” Seim also recognizes the difference between American and European jazz musicians by saying that “in the American tradition, the music always seems to be more about showing how well you can play — impressing the musicians on stage with you, or the people in the audience.” What you will find on Playground, which is composed of Katche’s own compositions, is an emphasis on the group dynamic, i.e., piano, trumpet, bass, saxophone, and drums, with many interesting and haunting rhythms supplied by Katche, as on the tracks titled "Motion" and "Inside Game." I have actually been listening more to Playground than Katche’s Neighborhood, which appeared in 2005 and which I only recently purchased. I give Playground a high recommendation.