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Manu Katche: Unstatic

Dan McClenaghan By

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French drummer Manu Katche always seemed something of an odd man at ECM Records on his four solo discs—warm, groove-centric, gregarious sets competing with the Nordic cool of Tord Gustavsen, or the thoughtful melancholy of trumpeter Tomasz Stanko and pianist Marcin Wasilewski. And—like few artists in the ECM stable—he crossed successfully into the rock world via work with Peter Gabriel, Sting, Robbie Robertson and many more.

So it's not a surprise to find him on Unstatic (Anteprima Productions) crafting deep grooves and catchy melodies, and molding an outgoing, danceable atmospheric, and leading a versatile, killer band, with saxophonist Tore Brunborg slipping away from his ECM mode into Katche's less spare, less somber sonic world.

Luca Aquino joins Bruborg in the front line, along with—on five of the eleven tunes—trombonist Nils Landgren. Bassist Ellen Andrea Wang and keyboardist Jimmy Watson are rhythm masters, laying down wall of sound beats with Katche.

But it's not all party time music. "Trickle" has a weighty despair; "Daze Days" is pretty, pastoral, mournful.

But the title tune, with its metallic keyboard work juxtaposed with Katche's muscular drums wouldn't sound out of place in a disco club—until Aquino lays down a breathy, delicate trumpet solo; and "Ride Me Up" has an electro-acoustic orchestral vibe, Watson's piano popping like hammers on steel pipes, laid on with finesse; and "Out Of Sight" features another stellar Aquino Trumpet solo, followed by Brunborg on soprano sax, nestled deep (of course) in Manu Katche's characteristic world of grooves.

Track Listing: Introduction; Unstatic; Flame&co; City; Blossom; Daze Days; Rolling; Ride Me Up; Trickle; Out Of Sight; Number 11.

Personnel: Manu Katche: drums, vocals; Ellen Andrea Wang: upright bass, vocals; Jim (James) Watson: acoustic piano, keyboards; Tore Brunborg: saxophones; Luca Aquino: trumpet; Nils Landgren: trombone (1, 2, 7, 11); Abraham Rodriguez Mansfarroll: percussion (1); Joel Hierrezuelo Balart: percussion (1); Inor Esteban Sotolongo: percussion (1).

Title: Unstatic | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Anteprima Productions

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