Jazz ensemble Dead Cat Bounce visits Blue Moose


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Matt Steckler began playing the saxophone in the fourth grade. He chose the sax because the man demonstrating the instrument had long hair and looked cool, he said

Steckler has studied the instrument since that demonstration, and he is now a Ph.D. candidate in music composition at New York University. His band, Dead Cat Bounce, will perform at 7 p.m. today at the Blue Moose Tap House, 211 Iowa Ave.

He said the group falls into the genre of "jazz, for lack of a better title." The band also incorporates rock and funk overtones, classical procedures, and Afrobeat sounds, he said. But it all comes from improvisation.

"The compositions allows room for improvisation," said Steckler, who composes the songs. "I keep it elastic and flexible so things can happen."

When he was younger, he listened to his dad's old records, mostly rock and roll, specifically the Beatles, and R&B. But when he began studying music formally, he was unable to avoid the gravity of jazz.

"It's hard to escape how the instrument has been traditionally used," he said. "If you're playing saxophone, jazz is where you're going to get your formal education. And if you can do that you can do many different kinds of music."

Because of this genre mixing and incorporation of improvisation, the Blue Moose talent buyer Doug Roberson expects a unique and interesting show.

With four saxophonists, a bassist, and a drummer, Dead Cat Bounce features a slightly unorthodox lineup of instrumentalists.

"When saxes are the frontline, you can get a whole bunch of different colors of sound when you deal with issues like timbre and attack," Steckler said. "Ultimately, having four of them gives us a wide palate of options for harmony."

While the lineup allows the music to move into many different directions, it can provide a challenge for the members of the band. Drummer Bill Carbone's job is to hold the beat together as four saxophonists move through their improvisations.

"Those guys are always driving me freaking bananas," he said. "Even though saxes are more linear, when there's four of them, things can get a little hairy."

Despite the challenge, Carbone thrives on the pressure of playing live shows.

"A lot of times Matt will point at somebody, and it means, 'OK, you're the lead,' " he said. "So if I'm taking a drum solo on a piece, maybe I've been playing it for eight years, maybe I've never played a solo on the song before, so it's really great stuff."

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