Live in Concert
Manu Katche may have changed labels (from ECM to ACT) and trumpeters (Nils Petter Molvaer to Luca Aquino) for this live set in a Parisian club, but the music remains the same curiosity. The drummer’s formula of soft-focus, TV theme-type melodies fleshed out with horn solos against what are ostensibly rock rhythms sounds like a recipe for terminal boredom, and certainly the more recent studio albums have never quite matched 2005’s brilliant Neighbourhood.
Yet somehow the music maintains an energised vivacity without ever becoming jazz-rock, per se, and the secret of that is buried deep in Katche’s drumming: in his ability to play at several dynamic levels simultaneously, so that massive rhythmic statements are engraved with the finest detail. Space, meanwhile, is used like another component of his kit, especially in the absence of a conventional bass. Even before Katche starts his vibrant interaction with Aquino, saxophonist Tore Brunborg and the exciting pianist/organist Jim Watson, therefore, his own instrument’s explosive detonations and tiny sounds are in constant dialogue, highlighted by the sensational recording quality.