Manu Katché, “Pieces of Emotion” from Live In Concert (2015): One Track Mind

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Following a successful, four-album run at ECM Records where every album has captured deserved critical kudos, French drummer, composer and bandleader Manu Katché embarks on a new leg on his career with his debut release under another label.

Well, sorta a new leg. The sideman to Peter Gabriel, Sting and Joni Mitchell kicks things off on ACT with his first-ever live album Live In Concert (January 13, 2015 on ACT Records), and that in itself is a change from his carefully crafted studio creations. While saxophonist Tore Brunborg and organist/pianist Jim Watson are carried over from the 2012 self-titled album, Luca Aquino becomes the latest to occupy the trumpet chair in the Katché band.

The ten tracks of Live are all culled from the last three ECM’s, according us the chance to hear how these Katché originals sound away from the sterile confines of the studio and on the stage. As “Pieces of Emotion” demonstrates, none of the goodness is lost in the translation.

“Pieces” kicked off Playground and so it also instigates Live. None of the personnel backing Katché here was around for the 2007 release, but Brunborg shares Trygve Seim’s atmospheric, Nordic melodicism and pours a greater deal of pure emotion into his soprano sax. Aquino uses a velvet tone to carry the melody even when Brunborg takes off on solo flights.

Like the studio efforts, Manu Katché himself doesn’t solo (not on this song, at least), and like before, he doesn’t need to in order for his presence to be felt. His light but meticulous style blurs the line between fills and timekeeping so fluidly, it’s enough on its own to give the song the same veneer of sophistication heard on the original. Live or in the studio, ECM or ACT, Manu Katché is about quality contemporary jazz music. Therefore, little has changed, really, and that’s good.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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