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Playground by Manu Katché

Drummer Manu Katché picks up where he left off on his inaugural 2004 solo release for this Germany-based record label titled Resurrection. Well-regarded for his session work with fellow ECM Records recording artist and Norwegian sax hero Jan Garbarek amid a busy career in pop-rock circles, Katché’s musical acumen is largely steeped within sonorous melody-making. As a solo artist, he doesn’t engage in complex polyrhythmic forays and overly-complex time signatures. Hence, he’s a colorist behind the kit while maintaining firm back-beats and a limber mode of execution.

With his European quintet, including American guitar god David Torn adding textural treatments on two tracks, the drummer’s music incorporates moody passages and dreamy vistas on many of these jazz-centric numbers. On "Pieces Of Emotion," saxophonist Trygve Seim hearkens notions of Garbarek via his yearning lines, blended with trumpeter Mathias Eick’s regal choruses: all performed atop a soft rock-pulse. Katché initiates another rock groove during the peppery piece titled "So Groovy," where he injects some snap, crackle and pizzazz into a framework that is topped off with the soloists triumphant choruses.

One of my favorite tracks is the loose vibe jaunt "Inside Game," which is a composition constructed upon pianist Marcin Wasilewski’s lower register and trance-like ostinato vamp. But the drummer opens up the playing field a bit on the super-charged and open-air comp "Clubbing." In sum, this outing might signify one of the record label’s more commercially accessible products. Yet Katché’s muse doesn’t always adhere to tried and true commonalities and the safer side of matters. Consequently, he’s created a singular musical voice that elicits a message of optimism and good will.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Manu Katché
  • CD Title: Playground
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: ECM Records
  • Musicians: Manu Katché (drums;), Marcin Wasilewski (piano), Slawomir Kurkiewicz (double-bass), Trygve Seim (tenor and soprano saxophones), Mathias Eick (trumpet), David Torn (guitar)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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