Born: 1958 in St. Maure des Fosses, France
Styles: Modern Creative, Continental Jazz, Post-Bop
Drummer Manu Katche blossomed as a contemporary jazz drummer and band leader, emerging in the mid-2000s after having played with his share of popular musicians. Born in Saint Maur Des Fosses, France on October 27, 1958, he studied classical piano at age seven in Paris, and at age 15 enrolled at the Conservatorie Nationale de Paris. He then became a session and concert drummer with a wide range of groups, but in the mid-'80s, Katche's stock rose considerably, thanks to his involvement with the touring and recording projects of Peter Gabriel and Sting. A French debut CD It's About Time was followed by a string of engagements as a backup musician. The impressive roster of artists he has played with include Joni Mitchell, Gloria Estefan, Johnny Hallyday, Michael McDonald, Simple Minds, Afro Celt Sound System, Jeff Beck, Al DiMeola, Tears for Fears, Dire Straits, Jan Garbarek, Loreena McKennitt, Youssou N'Dour, Robbie Robertson, Joe Satriani, Tori Amos, Richard Wright, Julia Fordham, the Bee Gees, Joan Armatrading, Tracy Chapman, Bob James and Hilary James, Gipsy Kings, Anna Marie Jopek, Black Eyed Peas, Kyle Eastwood, and David Lanz. After issuing a demo for the Zildjian cymbal company in 1999, he joined the ECM stable of artists., releasing his breakout recording Neighbourhood, with help from labelmates Jan Garbarek, Tomasz Stanko, and Stanko bandmembers Marcin Wasilewski and Slawomir Kurkiewicz. Katche's ECM follow-up Playground came out in 2007 with assistance from saxophonist Trygve Seim and trumpeter Mathias Eick. Katche has also worked with popular Croatian singer Gibonni on his albums Mirakul (2001) and Unca Fibre (2006). From 2003 to 2007, Katche, producer Dove Attia, composer Andre Manoukian, and singer Marianne James comprised the judges panel for Nouvelle Star, the French Television version of American Idol. He has performed on film soundtracks Quand Les Etoiles, Le Demenagement, Mookies, Zone Franche, The Professional and For the Love of the Game. Since January 2008, he hosts the monthly program One Shot Not n Arte.
- Michael G. Nastos (All Music Guide)
Manu Katche can be considered as one of today's leading drummers. Contrary to other drummer's drummers like Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta or Dennis Chambers he is not a virtuous drummer on first hearing. However, in his ability to lay down a basic groove and ornament it with short tom or cymbal strokes in a most peculiar, surprising, but very musical manner, he is practically inimitable and virtuous in his own way. This 'ornamented groove' is most typical of Manu Katche and it is what makes him recognizable on every album he plays on. I remember, for example, standing in a Florentine shoe shop and hearing an Italian record with those typical Katche drums. I asked the woman behind the counter what CD they were playing and it turned out to be the latest CD from Pino Daniele. I bought the CD a few days later and indeed....it was him playing the drums on the first five tracks. The fact that Manu Katche is a drummer whose style you can recognize makes him quite special. Unlike, for example, guitar players, drummers cannot easily manipulate their instrument, and they have to 'keep the groove going' all the time, so they have just a limited amount of musical freedom. Some drummers can be recognized by their sounds (Phil Collins, Jim Keltner), some by their infinitely returning fills (again Phil Collins) others by their capability to play seemingly impossible drum parts (Vinnie Colaiuta), but Manu Katche is above all recognizable by his style. Contrary to drummers like Dave Weckl or Steve Gadd and 'thanks' to the fact that he is not a typical virtuous drummer Katche hasn't got a lot of conservatory-, music school-clones. It would be quite senseless to try to imitate him, because his style is mainly based on musicality and his vision on drumming as a sort of landscape- painting. Sounds are for Katche like colors. He uses his drumsticks as brushes and his drumkit like a palette. Like in real painting, tiny touches of color in bigger, colour-contrasting planes make the difference. For that reason he uses small cymbals (splashes) to add color to his playing. Stewart Copeland, another drummer who is very recognizable by his style, used to do the same, but his drumkit during the last Police tour looked more like a whole percussion department of a symphony orchestra. There is nothing wrong with that, but for a more introvert drummer like Manu Katche three, four splashes are more than enough. Painters also use only a small amount of basic colors.