Following on from “Neighbourhood” and “Playground”, the latest installment of the music of Manu Katché on ECM. Recorded in the South of France in December 2009, this “Third Round” finds the French/African drummer enjoying the company of good friends. Once again Katché’s good-natured pieces – characterized by Guardian writer John Fordham as “beautifully mutated grooves and jazzy themes” – encourage inspired performances from the participants. But there is a difference of emphasis, as Katché calls upon the services of some long-term associates.
The feel and focus of the album, with its fully revised band line-up, revolves around the rhythmic understanding shared by Manu and bass guitarist Pino Palladino. As rhythm section partners, they have played together in sessions, projects and bands for around 25 years now and have a dynamic understanding that is special: they float around the beat together, play elastic pulses, divide up the groove between them, supercharge the soloists, while making the process seem effortless as breathing. Latterly, Palladino has been joining Katché for his Arte TV channel jam-music show, “One Shot Not”, in the course of which they have worked with the widest cast of artists across a broad range of music. As players barely heeding distinctions between ‘jazz’ and ‘pop’, they linger at the doorways between the idioms, or drift through them.
Also abetting the fluid rhythmic impetus of “Third Round” is British pianist Jason Rebello, heard on Steinway grand and Fender Rhodes and - like Paladino - making an ECM debut here. Rebello came into contact with Manu when both musicians were part of Sting’s band: they spent a couple of years on the road together. Contributing to the spontaneous, in-the-moment feel of the recording he has helped to bring out the implications of Manu’s melodies. “My music,” Katché explains “offers an atmosphere or a feeling that I want to present to the listener. But the players are not bound to the notes. They should use them as a guide.”
Manu Katché’s band, meanwhile one of the busiest on the touring circuit, has been obliged to adopt a revolving door policy for soloists, and a number of ECM players have passed through its ranks or guested with it over the last six years - including Jan Garbarek, Tomasz Stanko, Marcin Wasilewski, Slawomir Kurkiewicz, Mathias Eick and Trygve Seim. Tore Brunborg has been Katche’s saxophonist in recent seasons. He is prominently featured as soloist on “Third Round” – indeed the record was conceived, Katché explains, for a core quartet with Brunborg, Rebello, Palladino and himself, with guests added for specific sound colours and textures.
Guitarist Jakob Young joins the ensemble for three pieces on the album – “Keep On Trippin’”, “Springtime Dancing” and “Flower Skin”. There is a also a cameo appearance for singer/trumpeter Kami Lyle , on whose debut disc “Blue Cinderella” Katché drummed more than a decade ago. Lyle sings and plays trumpet on “Stay With You” and adds trumpet also to “Flower Skin”. Both Young and Lyle will augment the Katché group for selected concerts in the months ahead.
The new group
Paris-born (in 1958) and originally a pianist, Katché switched to percussion while studying at the Paris Conservatory. His distinctive drum style is derived from classical snare drum and kettledrum studies as well as from a conscious embracing of African roots. His work with Peter Gabriel on the album “So” and, subsequently on the Amnesty International World tour with Gabriel, Sting and Tracey Chapman catapulted him to world attention and he was soon recording and/or touring with Joni Mitchell, Robbie Robertson, Dire Straits, Simple Minds, The Bee Gees, Tears for Fears, Youssou N’Dour, Joan Armatrading, Joe Satriani, Nigel Kennedy and dozens more. His ECM affiliations include recordings with Jan Garbarek, amongst them: “Took Up The Runes”, “Twelve Moons”, “Visible World”, “In Praise of Dreams”, and the recent live album “Dresden”. Katché’s first leader date for the label, “Neighbourhood”, was recorded in 2004, with “Playground” following in 2007.
Regarded as an innovator on both fretless and fretted bass guitars, Palladino (born in Wales in 1957) has played with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Paul Simon, Chaka Khan and many other major figures in rock/pop/soul, while jazz and blues and associations range from BB King to Roy Hargrove. His collaborations with Katché have included their cooperative band The Tweeters with Dominic Miller. Best known as a session player par excellence, Palladino has toured the world with two rock group in recent years - as a member of the Who (replacing the late John Entwistle) and the John Mayer Trio.
Born 1969 in England, pianist Rebello was once described by UK critic Stuart Nicholson as “probably the finest young jazz musician this country has produced.” He has played with many leading jazz musicians, from Gary Burton to Branford Marsalis, and his 1990 debut album was produced by Wayne Shorter. A member of Sting’s band for several years. Recently working with Jeff Beck and singer Madeleine Peyroux.
The Norwegian saxophonist (born 1960) is well-known to followers of music on ECM. A member of the band Masqualero (with Arild Andersen, Jon Christensen, Nils Petter Molvaer) from 1982-1992, he has also appeared on albums by Jon Balke, Misha Alperin, and Tord Gustavsen. In the current season he is commuting between three ECM groups – the Gustavsen Ensemble (current album “Restored, Returned”), Manu’s band, and a new trio with Ketil Bjørnstad and Jon Christensen (album “Remembrance” to be released April 2010).
Norwegian/American guitarist Jacob Young (born 1970) studied with Jim Hall and John Abercrombie in New York. He has two ECM discs to his credit so far: “Evening Falls”, recorded 2002, and “Sideways”, recorded 2006.
The American singer/songwriter/trumpeter (born 1968) adds vocals to “Stay with You”, for which she also wrote the lyrics. Lyle studied at the Berklee College of Music, has appeared as trumpeter on recordings by NRBQ, Patty Griffin and Ron Sexsmith, and issued two albums of her own material, “Blue Cinderella” (1997) and “Ten Songs” (2005).
“Third Round” is issued on the eve of a major European tour for the Katché band, beginning at Switzerland’s Chiasso Jazz Festival, continuing with more than 20 dates in France (including Paris’s Théatre des Champs Elysées), and also venturing into Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey). Full details at www.ecmrecords.com
On March 18, a special edition of the Arte “One Shot Not” TV show will feature Katché, Palladino, Rebello and Brunborg playing music from “Third Round”.