Manu Katché is often called a forgotten drumming hero. He has not appeared many times on the cover of magazines like Modern Drummer and not even in brochures of the companies he endorses. In spite of that, Manu is very popular amongst a wide range of American, European and African artists who recognize his main talent: blending a worldwide variety of musical styles into the regular drumset with great musicality, style and passion.
Manu Katché 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 Katché 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 Katché 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 Katché 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 Katché 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 Katché 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 Katché 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.