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Manu Katche: Play As You Are

By Published: June 15, 2010

All About Jazz: Can you tell us how much work went into this recording, because it's something that many people rarely think about.

Manu Katché: Of course it's a lot of work when you write music, but I write music all year 'round. I write on the piano and then I put a demo on the computer. I print out the charts and I send everything to everyone. The principal work was getting what I wanted sound-wise. I really had in mind Pino [Palladino] and Jason Rebello

Jason Rebello
Jason Rebello
and Tore Brunborg
Tore Brunborg
Tore Brunborg
and Kami [Lyle] to form the sound. Finally, when we recorded, it took three days. It was very intense because we started at ten in the morning and finished around ten at night. We weren't trying to change the structure; we were trying to get the right attitude, the right approach and the right sound.

Manfred Eicher is very good as a producer in the old-school way; he lets you play around and then he says, "Okay I think you're reaching something. Keep on doing this; forget about that," and after a while he'll get us to do a take. It was a lot of work to find the right approach between ourselves. It was challenging to get as good as we could. I think when you listen to the album, it's more or less a continuation of what I've done before, but I really wanted to sound a little bit different so I used electric bass and a little bit of Fender Rhodes. I wrote most of the themes for soprano saxophone and I asked Tore to try and find different elements and approach to what I'd done before.

AAJ: There is quite a similarity in sound between Third Round and your previous two CDs as leader on ECM, but also some notable differences, and I wonder if the title signifies a trilogy in compositional terms and maybe the end of a cycle at the same time?

MK: I think when I did this album, I had in mind to be a little bit more myself on the drums, which doesn't mean that before I wasn't—just that instead of doing the punctuation, the syntax, I wanted to try and put more into it. I would say that it's definitely a little bit of a different approach. Before, we were a quintet and I'm very happy how we sound as a quartet. It gives space, and when you use electric instruments, you can use sustain more than with acoustic instruments. That's maybe what makes you think it's a bit different and the end of a way of composing for ECM, but I don't think so; I think it's very me sound wise.

You know, I've been doing a lot of rock music for a long time, and when I started the ECM project I just concentrated on going for the emotion and sensitivity without any effects. I'm not saying it's not the case on this one, but now I think I'm gradually bringing my knowledge from the rock music industry and my way of approaching the music into the music I make with ECM.

AAJ: You've had a long association with ECM, particularly with Jan Garbarek, which stretches back many years; how did you first get to work with ECM?

MK: When I met Jan I met Manfred. Manfred heard me on record; I remember it was "Somewhere Down the Crazy River" by Robbie Robertson. Actually, it comes from a jam from myself. I thought to myself that if they like this rhythm, this groove, then they like my style in a way. It was clear that they wanted to change direction rhythmically. It was very easy working with Jan. Of course he's a legend, but he was so nice and so warm, and everything we did at the time worked instantly.

AAJ: Did you choose Tore Brunborg because his sound is somewhat evocative of Jan Garbarek?

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