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Dead Cat Bounce: Home Speaks to the Wandering

Mark F. Turner By

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Dead Cat Bounce is about attitude. The saxophone quartet with rhythm section is definitely not your typical garden variety combo. With highly orchestrated material injected with taut musicianship and a sense of wittiness, the group has been lauded in the press and in their hometown of Boston. Their new recording Home Speaks to the Wandering continues in the vein of their recent recordings with tinges of Charles Mingus, the World Saxophone Quartet, and new attitudes.

A cursory listen might overlook the essence of the new recording, which has an almost retro sound that is not as pristine as other sax quartet recordings. The mood and character is an exploration of various styles. The opening cut, “Hiram Henkler’s Shrunken Heads,” carries a big band persona with blaring horns intermingled with meaty solo spots from the alto and baritone sax. “SOS Anakara,” which features an interesting bass solo, might be dubbed as “modal avant-garde” with its more contemporary feel.

Other shades include the New Orleans-flavored “Hepcat Revival,” which grooves but fizzles at the end with unrealistic gospel church shouts. Horns swirl intricately on “Myopia Hunt Club,” which begins with a surprising Celtic-like flute intro. Things get funky on the ragtime stride piece “Dis,You Dear,” with its delicate horn arrangements and a spirited flute solo, while free jazz explorations abound on “Cats: Is It Fish or Finite.”

Things sometimes get a little convoluted on pieces such as “Hear My Flow,” with changing tempos and combating horn play. One criticism here might be artistic overindulgence, but it's contravened by humorous approach to tunes with names such as “ I Once Was Vaccinated With a Phonograph Needle.” But regardless, the one thing that stands out is that Dead Cat Bounce is serious in their execution of the music.

Track Listing: 1. Hiram Henkler

Personnel: Jared Sims - soprano/tenor sax, clarinet; Matt Steckler - alto/soprano/tenor sax, flute; Charlie Kohlhase - alto/baritone sax; Drew Sayers - alto/tenor/baritone sax; Arie Werbrouck - bass; Bill Carbone - drums, percussion

Title: Home Speaks to the Wandering | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Innova Recordings

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