Dead Cat Bounce: Chance Episodes (2012)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Saxophonist Matt Steckler is a man of many parts. As a musician he has led his own bands including the imaginatively titled Dead Cat Bounce and has played with some of the finest including saxophonists Anthony Braxton and Lee Konitz, and percussionist Bobby Sanabria. His varied associations and wide comfort zone are manifested in the array of styles infused into his compositions. He is well-served by his band, an unusual combination of four saxophones, bass and drums. Dead Cat Bounce filters his music with perception, bringing in a strong harmonic presence and imaginative run of the score.
That the band is a force to be reckoned with is made clear right from the swinging, agile head of "Food Blogger." The music undulates sweetly until Terry Goss shifts it into bop gear. The tighter groove is the right fit for his perambulations that he fertilizes with hard phrases and a host of energetic ideas. But there's more, as the saxophones open the vents in frenzied interplay before Charlie Kohlhase lays tensile lines with just the right infusion of liquidity that flows into seamless ensemble phrases. The effect is arresting.
A lush sonic palette greets "Tourvan Confessin'" with the horns playing a catchy melody. Jared Sims takes that to the edge of the blues, his cutting edge escarping the movement. His is a majestic performance, as he dips and swerves to create an array of splendid edifices. It would be a pity to waste a melody as appealing as this one, and Steckler pays homage to it by filtering the recesses and fleshing the dimensions with irresistible appeal.
"Township Jive Revisited" is completely different. The melody arches into gospel, with Sims dancing on the beams of exhilaration. A svelte rhythmic pulse, a singing bass line and heady pulse from the drums endearingly lock it in a magnetizing field.
The music on Chance Episodes was shaped and changed over time. It has now found its haven.
Track Listing: Food Blogger; Tourvan Confessin'; Far From The Matty Crowd; Salon Sound Journal; Bio Dyno Man; Silent Movie, Russia 1995; Watkins Glen; Salvation & Doubt; Township Jive Revisited; Madame Bonsilene; Living The Dream.
Personnel: Matt Steckler: saxophones and woodwinds; Jared Sims: saxophones and woodwinds; Charlie Kohlhase: saxophones and woodwinds; Terry Goss: saxophones and woodwinds; Dave Ambrosio: upright bass; Bill Carbone: drums.
Record Label: Cuneiform Records
Style: Beyond Jazz