Dead Cat Bounce

Home Speaks to the Wandering

Innova Recordings



Jared Sims – soprano and tenor saxophone, clarinet

Matt Steckler – soprano, alto and tenor saxophone, flute, shaw whistle, holler

Charlie Kohlhase – alto and baritone saxophone

Drew Sayers – alto, tenor and baritone saxophone

Arie Werbrouck – acoustic upright bass

Bill Carbone – drums and percussion


Bill Carbone plays Turkish cymbals



Tracks and Soloists:


1 - Hiram Hinckler’s Shrunken Heads (6:40)

            Alto – Kohlhase, Bari - Sayers

2 - SOS Ankara (5:54)

            Bass – Werbrouck, Tenor - Sims

3 - Hepcat Revival (5:21)

            Tenor – Steckler, Soprano - Sims

4 - Myopia Hunt Club (4:28)

            Alto & Shaw Whistle - Steckler

5 - Hear My Flow (7:56)

            Tenor - Sayers

6 - Cats: Is It Fish or Finite? (7:15)

            Alto – Sayers, Bass - Werbrouck

7 - Dis You, Dear (5:32)

            Bari – Kohlhase, Flute - Steckler

8 - Angelic & Podlike (6:45)

            Soprano – Steckler, Drums – Carbone

9 - I Once Was Vaccinated With a Phonograph Needle (4:11)

            Bari - Kohlhase

10 - Department of Homeland Strategery (7:13)

            Tenor – Sims, Drums – Carbone

Total Time: 61:38




I would like to take the time to thank my family – Megan, my closest and dearest (and Angelic & Podlike muse); my parents, Charles and Rosemarie, for their inexhaustible support; my band mates, Bill, Arie, Drew, Jared and Charlie, without whom this music could never be realized; Craig & Brian at Q for their vision and execution; Alex & Mike at Pyramid for their elegance under pressure; Philip at Innova for the opportunity to spread this music; Fred Bouchard for his wild & witty insight; Meet the Composer for rewarding the creative spirit; Time-honored DCB alums who helped paved the way; my cats Talmot (the county magistrate) & Mingus (chairman meow); the great music heroes, too plentiful to name but honored daily…


The Notes


When your jaded, unslaked Boston music critic saunters into an Irish pub (Matt Murphy’s or An Tua Nua) 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. As he gloats over the dionysiac dance of the glinting brass players shoehorned in a dark alcove that clashes with the clang of pans from the nearby kitchen and tiptoes betwixt the happy patter of youthful patrons, he is nearly overwhelmed by the false aroma of discovery, grabbing for his pad to announce Dead Cat Bounce as a first-coming of something uniquely unquiet. 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). Doing penance, that abashed critic does his gloss of the current album’s tracks.


1 Hiram Hinckler’s Shrunken Heads presents a score for an unmade Indiana Jones B film. Listeners beware after Charlie’s rip-snorting alto solo: the head that shrinks may be your own. Spell relief: "Drew’s bari outburst" under flagellating flauts.


2 Long unison runs swirl through SOS Ankara, with quick-time sections spelling alto narration and bass solo (Arie over dry sticks). We continue under vamps, as ensembles (in unison with drums) lead to gritty, earthy tenor mudness (Mr. Sims) – brewed in a piping hot brass briki and served with lots of sugar.


3 Hepcats unite! You have nothing to lose but your squaredom! This full-blown composition (with a title out of Lord Buckley) opens thus: Quick-step Capetown highlife riddims lead to fast 2/4 (soprano and bari canoodling on top) then to bass & drum street vamp with oily smears. Horn chorale punctuate Matt’s tenor preaching (as reverend, not muezzin) and Jared’s soprano echoing before the Mingus Prayer Meeting overruns the sanctuary and chases everyone back to S. Africa. 


4 Myopia Hunt Club, a blueblood aggregate on Boston’s toney Nawth Shawr, used to hunt fox but now play polo and rugby. Brits, say you? Celts, counter The Cats, who lay on more Gaelic than King’s English tales. Matt opens on pennywhistle for reel-like spins, then jumps to alto (courtesy of Phil Woods, Charles McPherson). Brilliant band charges on the out-chorus are in league to nail that fox!


5 Hear My Flow is a slow elephant-walk for bass and flute, fading to a bass / bari quickstep, soprano/alto-led ensemble; bass, drum & bari-punctured ensemble; Drew’s tenor solo rides on and builds over mixed ensemble activity; more ensembles, drum break for final rock-like chorus and rallentando ending.


6 A catpella Cats quietly rally ‘round a fishbowl, admiring an infinitely mirrored view: twin sopranos add twin altos for angling with tambourine and shaker. Drum rumbles and Arie’s distant-thunder bowing (under Drew’s nagaswaram alto) evolve into barreling bass over thrash snares. An ominous ensemble rears its heads like beasts in a post-King Kong animé flick. Somehow, these cats mutate into sabre-tooth tiggers; yet, after a brief silence, they squiggle back thru a wormhole, roil, and fade whimpering.


7 In Dis You, Charlie’s galumphing bari states a Sun Ra-like proto-bop theme (eight bars repeated) over Bill’s second-line back-heavy beats; Matt’s flute varies it over clarinets and bari, then Jared and Matt put it through Dixie variations. After Arie and Bill pick up the melody, Charlie solos close to the bone, then stretches with flute and clarinet on top. Jared’s clarinet warms, then Matt heats up his flute with Rahsaan-like incandescence. Clarinets cool it down and bass backs it out.


8 Angelic & Podlike again offers filmic possibilities as William Blake (or Breuker?) meets Donald Sutherland. Concert band waltz meter creeps in tripletting. Matt’s soprano launches itself in a pod piece (shades of a C. S. Lewis sci-fi classic) over tight horn harmonies, then floats it further over Bill’s naked skins. The waltz circles back, as Matt keeps flying under descending staccato riffs and drum press rolls. The closing ensemble smacks of The Blues Project gone Alien.


9 Deadslow and darkling, I Once Was… opens vistas out of deepest Africa. Our grizzled griot on bari is Charlie, telling anguished tales of post-colonial rapacity. He climbs the slopes of Kilimanjaro, melting under the heat of sustained saxophones.


10 Aah, home speaks to the wandering at last, with timely, good-humored political satire on the grill! In the Department of Homeland Strategery, Dubya’s extra syllable translates to Jared’s gefluffled tenor indignation at the turkey farm and smears a la Shepp. Crescendi and accelerandi are homemade side dishes on the groaning buffet. Bill and Arie parade paramilitarily before top brass usher us out to the patio to review with alarm the raging cosmos.


With that, ye privileged listeners go forth and babble to the rabble about the wondrous sounds heard herein!


--- Fred Bouchard

November 27 & December 7, 2003

Turkey Day & Pearl Harbor Day


Fred Bouchard writes for Downbeat Magazine and teaches at Berklee College of Music.


Produced by Craig Welsch and Matt Steckler

Engineered by Brian Brown and Craig Welsch

Recorded July 30 & 31, 2003 at Q Division Studios, Somerville MA

Mixed November 2003 at Q Division

Mastered by Alex Perialas and Mike at Pyramid Sound Studios, Ithaca NY

Artwork and Photography by Charles Steckler

Liner Notes by Fred Bouchard

CD Layout by Philip Blackburn


All compositions are by Matt Steckler (Chonsky Music, ASCAP)

This music was made possible through a generous commission from Meet the Composer/Commissioning Music USA


© copyright 2003 Matt Steckler/Chonsky Music • all rights reserved

unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws


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Or contact:

Innova Recordings

332 Minnesota St. E-145

St. Paul, MN 55101