Welcome to the Neighbourhood
At the crossroads
of classical, jazz, and pop music stands Parisian drummer Manu Katché.
Popularly known for his drum work for Peter Gabriel, Sting, and Joni Mitchell,
Katché now sits at the set in a jazz setting.
Day release of Neighbourhood brings together three-fourths of Polands
Tomasz Stanko quartet and adds Katchés longtime playing companion,
Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek.
When you go for a session, you have to give yourself to the music and
let your brain and heart do the rest, he says. I am trying to play
as if I am discovering the music for the first time even though I composed it.
As both leader and composer, Katché did not write out indications for
the percussive role. Instead, he supplied beats and rhythmic interjections upon
hearing interpretations from his counterparts. In so doing, Katché said
he was a bit afraid he would end up falling back on gimmicks and licks - a fear
that he wouldnt be part of it. But clearly, this groups trenchant
casting process has paired instrumentalists that produce an organic
sound. When I saw their faces smiling and bodies moving behind the instruments,
I was very excited, eases Katché. I would say it sounds like
When Katché met pianist Marcin Wasilewski, he brought in charts and demos.
Wasilewski diligently reorganized the voicings of all the chords with respect
for Katchés initial concepts to ultimately create a more intense
sound. So too, Stanko and Garbarek came together, playing melodies in tandem
through mellow and modal blends of trumpet and tenor saxophone.
Neighbourhood sounds distinctly European. Katché finds this to be the
result of Europes musicians making references to classical artists such
as Prokofiev, Ravel, and Debussy, whereas American jazz artists tend not to
refer to as distant a past. These artists shared cultural heritage allowed
them to take centuries-old references and apply them to tighten their union.
They all learned Beethoven and Mozart in school and had to listen to symphonic
orchestras. In turn, Katché says his bandmates are like his neighbors
in a common harmonic community - one that hinges not on bebop or hard bop, but
centers on respecting the sound of each instrument. In Europe, the way
of playing what we call jazz is a mixture of freedom with ones instrument
and playing music, he says.
While Neighbourhood is supported by classical music, Katché confirms
it has contemporary ties. Its modern references include Miles Davis Kind
of Blue as subtly articulated on Miles Away, which takes the 6/8
time signature of All Blues and alludes to it with new chords and
tones. Neighbourhood also carries the sensual sound of Herbie Hancocks
Maiden Voyage. Coming from a classical percussion background, Katché
plays softly without losing the cunning busyness that punctuates even the gentlest
With freedom comes intensity. This [music] is very much written away from
jazz so it is more difficult to get into the structure, explains Katché.
It is not AABA where you go off to solo and return back to the tune. It
is very written. The first two to three hours it was hard for us to get into
the length of the pieces. While the longer structures took some getting
used to, the thoughtful players adapted. They present improvisations that run
effortlessly over forms that were composed like pop songs with intros, verses,
choruses, and bridges in varying lengths and recapitulations.
Katché demonstrates his genre agnosticism further in his appearance on
Nouvelle Star, the French version of American Idol. Donning the nickname The
Professor, Katché critiques artists and aspiring talents from a
jazz players perspective. Finally, people are discovering what it
means to be a musician, he remarks. He explains when to use a metronome
and when to use the stomach to breathe. Viewers say he is cruel, but fair.
Katché says that preparing to play is like training for a marathon. You
run every day for three years. As time passes, you want it to be over already
so you can give your all and show what you are able to do. He finds this same
stamina is required to display his best musical dexterity.
During Shaking the Tree on Peter Gabriels Secret World Live,
Gabriel proclaims Manu Katché! Shaking two trees! Katché
continues to shake not one, but two trees. Hes knocking it down with respect
for the sounds he produces, looks to compose more, and hopes to take new chances.