Kick The Cat “Scramble”



Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#695 in the Series) is Kick the Cat, Scramble

This was a new find for me when I saw them live at Reggie’s Rock Bar on the near south side of Chicago (where they have one of the coolest record stores around with tons of rare vinyl), They were opening up for a band called District 97 who was having a guest appearance by singer John Wetton, ex of King Crimson, Asia, etc. who was in town for the UK reunion show (I saw it, great). So I did not know what to expect from the opening act and it was an extremely pleasant surprise and they turned out to be a powerhouse jazz fusion four piece that really flipped my wig.

Their only release, Scramble only further adds to my enthusiasm as a fan, as it is at the cool intersection where jazz fusion meets rock. I always have to reference, who do they sound like. Well as hard as this may be to believe, it is accurate, so accurate that you will swear after listening to Track 4- Disarmed, if Pat Metheny,  American Garage does not immediately come to mind, you missed something, because this could have been the 6th track on that classic.  There is a distinct similarity to guitar greats Alan Holdsworth and even Jeff Beck! The drumming, bass, keys and especially piano takes no back seat, as these compositions are complex and fun as they introduce new and familiar technique within the same songs.

One fall-back is to follow through on the name of the album, the titles of the track are a bit hard to distinguish as they do not exactly fall in order as you might expect.  A minor inconvenience and really, I tend to have a hard time attaching titles to instrumental anyway. My favorite short song used to be Red Hot Chili’s, “You Always Sing the Same” from their first record (it was their encore first time through Chicago), that clocks in at 39 seconds. “Ramsey 1” is a 52 second number that puts cooler in the whole experience. This is a fun record that I can’t get enough of. For instance, “Temple of Doom”stars like a piece by the old Canadian trio FM (Black Noise has been reviewed here in the past) and finishes like something from UK’s first.  One more amazing note, there are 16 tracks here, 75:49 of superb music (the aforementioned American Garage is 34:23!)! Kick the Cat is a very cool band and guitarist Chris Siebold is a virtuoso.

— John Driscoll, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Don’t just take Cool Album of the Day’s word on this one.  Here is a little piece written by Howard Levy. Howard is one of the most respected harp players in Chicago and all of the US of A.  This is what he wrote about this album.

“From the beginning of the first track of “SCRAMBLE”, Kick the Cat’s new album, you can tell that you are listening to a band guided by a deep musical intelligence. The combined compositional sense and playing ability of the four band members, plus the excellent recording quality, makes for a interesting and surprising musical journey from beginning to end.

Vijay Tellis-Nayak’s compositions are characterized by mysterious harmonies, odd time meters, and unfolding sections that compel the listener’s ear to follow the musical thread through twisting mazes. Vijay moves between all the keyboards with ease, contributing some especially thoughtful and lyrical solos on piano, and some very hot ones on synthesizer.

Guitarist Chris Siebold has a seemingly limitless technique. Backing that up is an intensely soulful, expressive drive that makes him one of the most compelling guitarists playing in any genre today. Some of his originals also showcase his fine acoustic guitar and bouzouki playing, an unexpected treat.

The rhythm section of Chris Clemente and Tom Hipskind work perfectly together. Tom is one of the finest drummers I have ever heard, always perfectly in sync with the music, whether keeping time or stretching it with articulate and fiery solos. Chris Clemente plays bass perfectly on all of the tunes, totally at ease with all the rhythmic and harmonic complexity, and always grooving. He wrote some of the funkier tracks, and gets to flash his chops, too. Tom shows his compositional ingenuity on the “Walking on Hot Sand”, whose theme is alternately in 13 and 14, but sounds so groovy and natural that I found myself bobbing my head to it without caring what rhythm it was- it’s a groove! Not to mention the smoking drum solo in 27! Drummer Kris Myers also appears on the super- intense “Squirt”, the last track, recorded live. Everybody gets to go nuts- it’s a great closer to the album.

These guys not only play complex and interesting music, but they also have fun doing it. Unlike some “fusion” bands who tend toward pomposity and take themselves too seriously, Kick the Cat’s “SCRAMBLE” has equal amounts of groove, humor, and complexity. I recommend it to anyone with ears and imagination.”

– Howard Levy

EDITORS NOTE: We could not find any YouTube videos of album tracks. However, nearly all the songs in the Track Listing are clickable. You can hear a nice chunk of each track by doing so. Enjoy! You can purchase this album, and their first two as well from the band’s website. 

Track Listing

  1.  Hole In The Head Disease
  2.  Camel Toe vs. Snaggle Tooth
  3.  Walking on Hot Sand
  4.  DisARMed
  5.  Ramsey I
  6.  Temple of Doom
  7.  e
  8.  Sky
  9. Painted Lady
  10. Can You Dig it?
  11. Scramble
  12. Ramsey II
  13. Classico Fusiona
  14. Ramsey III
  15. Quagmire
  16. Squirt (live)


  • Chris Clemente – bass
  • Chis Siebold – guitar
  • Vijay Tellis-Nayak – keys
  • Tom Hipskind – drums


 Here’s some other album you might enjoy

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Posted by Larry Carta

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