(ECM 370 9456. CD Review by Chris Parker)
Manu Katché has produced a series of immediately accessible albums for ECM, their changing personnel ‘inspired by meetings and encounters’ and resulting in the French-Ivorian drummer/composer concentrating on slightly different aspects of his music to accommodate them. For his label debut, Neighbourhood, Katché secured the services of Jan Garbarek, and on this album (as on its predecessor, Third Round) he features another Norwegian saxophonist, Tore Brunborg, explaining that ‘when I write new music … his sound has become the sound that I hear in my head’.
Said sound is a slightly warmer version of the famous Garbarek skirl, set against the multi-hued Hammond of Jim Watson (‘the sound of the organ surrounds you … it opens up many new dynamic possibilities for me as a drummer’ is Katché’s comment) and sharing front-line duties with Nils Petter Molvær, who ‘glue[s] the album together’ with his loops and immediately recognisable trumpet contributions.
Again speaking of Watson, Katché says: ‘We’re both coming from this other cultural corner, the pop world’, and this influence is readily discernible throughout this eponymous album in the direct simplicity of its melodies (some, as with much of Katché’s work, almost hummable on first acquaintance) as well as the relatively straightforward rhythms they are played in.
Although, in terms of label output, this album in many ways occupies the opposite end of the musical spectrum to, say, the Art Ensemble of Chicago or Tim Berne, it is, in its concentration on nuances of texture and timbre, and above all on the sheer beauty of its sound, very much an ECM product.