Home Speaks to the Wandering

Home Speaks to the Wandering

A sly anti-catatonic cantilever across the mainstream!
Matt Steckler
Dead Cat Bounce
Matt Steckler
Arie Werbrouck
Bill Carbone
Charlie Kohlhase
Drew Sayers
Jared Sims
Catalog Number: 

Boston, MA

Release Date: 
Mar 30, 2004
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

When your jaded, unslaked Boston music critic saunters into an Irish pub for an innocent pint and is confronted with the impassioned bleats and untamed caterwauls emanating from the unruly passel of saxophones plus bass & drums, he is dangerously tempted to liken the band to one heretofore unheard of. Dangerous words rush in: Are these twenny-sumpn’ reedmavens a weed-smoking six-gun, a poisonous six-pak of too heady a brew, a mystic hexagram of itching youth? 

Morning light harshly reveals the truth: Dead Cat Bounce is in the tradition, a cleverly anti-catatonic cantilever across the mainstream! Yass, they’ve been acclaimed Boston’s Outstanding Jazz Act by Boston Music Awards, Boston Phoenix Music Poll and Improper Bostonian. Head-cat Matt Steckler has written works commissioned by Meet the Composer and Chamber Music America. Dead Cat’s earlier albums go to show that, in addition to "having sprung, like Venus on the half-shell, full-blown from the brow of Zeus," it has in fact derived its own purling meow from irreverently unslavish study of its forebears (Charles Mingus, World Saxophone Quartet, even Either/Orchestra and CK5) and three bears (Roland Kirk, Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins). 



Moody avant garde jazz that occasionally swings. As strange as it may sound, Dead Cat Bounce is a group of musicians whose music fits their name. The music on Home Speaks to the Wandering is sassy and saunters about...yet there are segments where the music is actually danceable. This ensemble consists of Jared Sims, Matt Steckler, Charlie Kohlhase, Drew Sayers, Arie Werbrouck, and Bill Carbone. Steckler's saxophones may be the central focus of the music...but all of the players actually add equally to the mix. Modern jazz sometimes gets a bad name because some artists abuse their ability to improvise to the point of neglecting their audience. These folks' music teeters on the edge, providing enough familiar sounds to latch onto...while expanding the boundaries of their sound. Dead Cat Bounce is a group intent on providing plenty of variety while always maintaining integrity and quality. Humorously titled numbers include "Hiram Hinckler's Shrunken Heads," "Dis You, Dear," "I Once Was Vaccinated With a Phonograph Needle," and our favorite..."Angelic and Podlike" (heh heh heh heh heh...). Cool stuff played with style...this is new jazz with a classic feel. Well done. (Rating: 5++)


There's so much going on rhythmically and melodically in the music of Dead Cat Bounce that influences are called to mind like items on a to-do list. This band of four multi-instrumental reed players, bassist, and drummer from moment to moment generate the pulse of Mingus, the interweaving lines of the World Saxophone Quartet, the stop-on-a-dime timing of the Murray Octet, the swing of the Marsalis septet, and generally perform with the tenacity of any other crisp, self-assured, raucous, and joyful horn-driven ensemble you can think of... When so much jazz settles for nods of the head, DCB goes right for your midsection. - Jeff Stockton


This feisty Boston-based sax quartet plus rhythm team features Jared Sims, Matt Steckler, Charlie Kohlhase & Drew Sayers on assorted saxes, clarinet & flute with Arie Werbrouck on acoustic bass and Bill Carbone on drums. This spirited sextet feature members of the Either/Orchestra, the Fully Celebrated Orchestra and various Charlie Kohlhase bands. Led by Matt Steckler, these cats are tight and not afraid to spew out some powerful and inventive solos and intricate ensemble playing. Each of the four saxes gets a chance to stretch out on different tunes, but it is often Matt's strong writing and arrangements that stand out. The South African funk groove of "Hepcats Unite!" inspires Matt to play his most soulful of tones, while he plays some endearing pennywhistle on "Myopia Hunt Club" as well as some high fallootin' bopping alto sax. Matt keeps these dudes on their toes by shifting directions often, three saxes will play gnarly harmonies while the fourth sax solos righteously within the web of woven parts. The four saxes play some prickly parts without the rhythm team on "Cats" and sound like some spooky ghosts before the stammering rhythm section fades in to add fire to the flames, spinning more profusely as the piece evolves. Dead Cat Bounce are amongst Boston's best kept secrets, but hopefully not for very long. - Bruce Gallanter


Part of Boston's underground art jazz scene alongside the slightly older Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Twinemen, and other lesser-known groups, Dead Cat Bounce isn't out to intimidate or annoy its audiences. This sextet -- a front line consisting of four saxophonists (Jared Sims and Matt Steckler double on clarinet and flute, respectively) plus a rhythm section -- is as well-versed in Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus as it is The Art Ensemble of Chicago, and elements of swing and bop mingle easily with the freer and more out passages the group occasionally slip into. As a result, the artist that Home Speaks to the Wandering most closely resembles is Atlantic Records-era Rahsaan Roland Kirk, when the multi-instrumentalist was playfully mixing his stylistic metaphors out of the entire continuum of jazz history. Dead Cat Bounce doesn't have the complete freedom of Kirk at his peak, but this album is imbued with a similarly questing, open-hearted spirit. - Stewart Mason


I suppose it sounds like a backhanded compliment for me to say that fans of the Vandermark 5 should check this out pronto (given that I'm not KVDM's biggest fan) but there's a similar punchiness here in charts that come off like a blend of jazz & rockabilly sensibilities. There's even a little Irish pennywhistle at one point(!). It's a sextet--four horns, bass, drums. Mostly unfamiliar names (Jared Sims, Matt Steckler, Drew Sayers, Arie Werbrouck, Bill Carbone) except that of Charlie Kohlhase. Nominee for title of the year: "I Once Was Vaccinated with a Phonograph Needle" (a lift, I take it, from Groucho Marx). - Nate Dorward


The sounds on Home Speaks To The Wandering are as adventurous as the music of such obvious influences as the World Saxophone Quartet and Roland Kirk and as deep 'in the pocket' as perhaps less obvious but no less important influences as Coleman Hawkins and Sonny Rollins. More than anything, the group, performing ten original compositions by leader Matt Steckler, demonstrate that real freedom is best expressed within confines - freedom within a framework. The framework is the jazz tradition, and the freedom is the sextet's willingness to take untraditional sidetrips while following that path. It starts with an innovative, if not unique, lineup, featuring four reeds over a rhythm section of bass and drums, and, having abandoned certain conventions in that way, they continue to investigate the unconventional in a variety of ways, without ever losing sight of their essentially conventional goal - the production of great jazz music. It's a goal they reach. This turns out to be a great jazz album. It's great because there's virtuouso performance. It's great because there's an original vision. It's great because they take bold chances and break new ground. And, in a near contradiction, it's great because it's essentially accessible. Every time I find myself saying "Wow, I can't believe they did that!," I find myself responding "But I'm glad they did!" It's innovation with the audience in mind. Lesser talents often confuse the boldness of the experiment with the quality of the outcome. Steckler and his musical comrades never let go of the central idea that, in the end, the experiment must serve the music, and as a result they've made an album that challenges and delights. - Shaun Dale


Steckler screams to the heavens, as if possessed by (Charles Mingus). The group plays with precision and technique that forces listeners to take them seriously. - Mike Shanley