Bringing The World Home To You

© 2024 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Giving the Drummer His Due

At a certain point, after a drummer has spent years as the backbone of big acts, he isn't even considered a musician anymore -- he's the appliance that pumps out the arena-sized beats. This is what he does, who he is. But even drummers have inner lives.

Case in point: Manu Katché, the Paris-born rhythm master, who has spent years supporting Sting, Peter Gabriel, and others. The creator of his own signature pulse -- a cymbal-splash whirl that brings elements of jaunty African polyrhythm to fist-pumping anthemry -- Katche has, it turns out, interests beyond the big rock show, and a musical philosophy more adventurous than his high-profile associations would suggest.

All these components come together nicely on "Number One." Over a pattering pulse that's at once airy and relentlessly forward-rushing, Katché's group outlines a simple four-bar theme a child might write while dawdling at the piano. It's a skeletal idea on which to build, but the assembled musicians -- particularly saxophonist Jan Garbarek, a frequent Katché collaborator, and pianist Marcin Wasilewski -- do just that, engaging in jazzlike crosstalk that isn't cramped by jazz convention.

In a matter of minutes, through sensitive repetition, the vamp snowballs into something almost wondrous: a piece that lifts the familiar cyclical churn of rock to a more expansive plane where anything can happen.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

Tom Moon has been writing about pop, rock, jazz, blues, hip-hop and the music of the world since 1983.
More Stories