Their name might be a bit strange, but the Boston group Dead Cat Bounce is one of today’s more interesting and progressive saxophone quartets. Their new recording Legends Of The Nar is a workout for strong horn arrangements with a creative flair. With the profile notable groups such as the World Saxophone Quartet and the American Saxophone Quartet, the acceptance of the sax quartet is growing in popularity, and deservedly so. Many lesser known groups performing at universities and smaller scenes are finding wider audiences who appreciate the beauty and depth of the mighty reed instrument. Dead Cat Bounce step forth as a modern sax quartet that’s capable, unique, and not confined to musical stereotypes.
Consisting of mostly young cats, if you’ll excuse the pun, the group is led by the talented Matthew Steckler, who wrote and arranged all of the compositions. One listen to the breath and scope of these selections is all that’s needed to see and hear the group's potential. They perform these tunes, ranging from the complex to the sublime, with vigor and style. The opening cut, “Groovewhatsie?”, comes across as a typical funky piece in the vein of the '70s "Tower of Power” hornsbut the next composition, “Dead Cat Catillion,” reveals the true monster hidden in the cellar with a pervasive style that could be a mantra dedicated to Ellington and Mingus, in terms of beauty and aggressiveness. Each musician brings his all to the recording, artfully delivering to the ears sounds ranging from the smooth voice of the alto to the powerful throat of the baritone. The bass and drum rhythm section are the true gears in this sax machine, allowing the horns to interact and solo with freedom. A good example is the beautiful and exhilarating “Ilha Das Gaivotas,” which evolves from a difficult horn arrangement into an infectious groove oriented march with interesting bass and rhythm angles. Selections also feature percussion and talking drums which open the arrangements. It’s easy to see how DCB has garnered numerous local awards and become in demand in surrounding venues. These cats are far from deadand hopefully future lives will be as exciting as this one.