Drummer Manu Katché 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 Fossés, 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, and Youssou N’Dour. He has also performed on several film soundtracks, including Quand Les Etoiles, Le Demenagement, Mookies, Zone Franche, The Professional, and For the Love of the Game.
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. From 2003 to 2007, Katche, producer Dove Attia, composer André Manoukian, and singer Marianne James comprised the judges panel for Nouvelle Star, the French Television version of American Idol. He also found work hosting the monthly program One Shot Not. During this period, he also worked with popular Croatian singer Gibonni on his albums Mirakul (2001) and Unca Fibre (2006).
Katche’s ECM follow-up, Playground, came out in 2007 with assistance from saxophonist Trygve Seim and trumpeter Mathias Eick. He then returned with 2010’s Third Round, followed by a self-titled album, both on ECM. Katche rounded out his time at ECM with the anthology Touchstone for Manu, after which he moved to Anteprima for 2016’s Unstatic. by Michael G. Nastos