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Jim Hobbs Fully Celebrated Orchestra
Peace & Pig Grease

Cat. No.: SHCD136

Personnel:
Jim Hobbs  alto saxophone
Timo Shanko  bass
Django Carranza  drums

Track Listing:
1. Theme (Jim Hobbs) 2:34
2. Freedom, Right Now! (Timo Shanko) 7:07
3. Peace & Pig Grease (Jim Hobbs) 3:33
4. Cry for Help (Jim Hobbs) 5:03
5. Imposter Pot Belly (Timo Shanko) 4:16
6. Witch's Witch (Jim Hobbs) 2:47
7. The Celebration (Jim Hobbs) 4:35
8. Wot Not (Jim Hobbs) 7:26
9. Pulaski Skyway (Jim Hobbs) 2:19
10. Chandini (Jim Hobbs) 4:41
11. (Up Against a Wall) With a Chicken Wing (Jim Hobbs) 5:39
12. B. Now (Timo Shanko) 2:50
13. A Posse (Timo Shanko) 3:01
14. Ice on Fire (Jim Hobbs) 10:08

Total time: 62:25
 
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"Jim Hobbs' Fully Celebrated Orchestra is a piano-less trio that plays very much in the tradition of the early Ornette Coleman groups. While bassist Timo Shanko and drummer Django Carranza are alert and stimulating in support of the leader, the focus throughout is on Jim Hobbs' colorful alto. This is an impressive outing of fiery and explorative yet often melodic music that is easily recommended."
Scott Yanow, Cadence, December 1996
 
 
Liner Notes

"You can compare us to the Renaissance guys of the avant garde, the kind of attitude that Ornette Coleman had in his music. You can mix that with a punk-rock aesthetic because we don't want to have to play the jazz mantra all the time" - Jim Hobbs

Even by jazz's sometimes bizarre standards, alto saxophonist/ composer Jim Hobbs is an anomaly. A twenty something Fort Wayne, Indiana born renegade; Hobbs is the spokesman/leader of the Fully Celebrated Orchestra, a collective ensemble which is actually a trio comprised of bassist Timo Shanko and the slash and burn drums of Django Carranza. The eclecticism of his influences is what sets him and his group apart - Duke Ellington Suites, heavy metal, Don Cherry and Willie Nelson's song stylings ("the way he can twist melodies that are common"). This seemingly disparate mix and match of American culture is all the more unusual because Hobbs and company bring to it a sense of fun. Absent from Peace and Pig Grease, this their second Silkheart release (Babadita was the first, SHCD-133), is the self conscious post-modernism of the downtown New York jazz and new music scene. "This music is supposed to be fun!!" intones the transplanted New Yorker. "Our sarcasm which has shown through in our song titles (Imposter Pot Belly; Up Against A Wall With a Chicken Wing; Ice on Fire) is where our punk energy lies; it's not that we have punk politics or believe in punk anarchy. Just like rock musicians, we borrow some tradition in what we do, but we also try to be "free". The rock musicians our age had the sense to pick up a guitar, which made more money than a saxophone." Such remarks might lead you to believe that the Fully Celebrated Orchestra are an ad hoc band of auteurs. On the contrary, Jim Hobbs has split reeds and breath with Joe Viola and George Garzone while at Berklee College of Music; logged calypso gigs with Mackie Burnett's band, Panorama, and thrashed with a variety of alternative rock bands.
Django Caranza incorporates everything from free-jazz drumming to reggae "riddims" in the swirl of Fully Celebrated performances. His backing of "every reggae superstar to come to the Boston area" and additional work with ex-Ellingtonian trombonist Vince Prudente, only serves to add to his arsenal.
Rounding out the ensemble, Timo Shanko, the California born bassist whose quickened pulse acts as the bottom and incineratory agent in this band's bitchesbrew of hard-core impulse and freedom.
Hobbs and Shanko spent five years in Boston before coming to New York. Their emigration from Boston occurred during a time when an informal scene of likeminded improvisers dotted the Bean town area. This in spite of the fact that, according to Hobbs, "There aren't enough gigs to go around in Boston. I tried putting together a 13-piece orchestra, but invariably musicians would choose better paying gigs. Although so much music has come out of Boston over the last five years - Joe Morris, The Either Orchestra, The Fringe, Charlie Kolhase - it doesn't feel like a scene. In Boston there are a lot of musicians but no listeners."
By small contrast when both players moved to New York City, they developed a cult following among the Lower East Side rock crowd. This new potential audience for jazz offers a ray of hope to these distinctly non Generation X-ers.
Hobbs elaborates "I now don't feel our music is marginalized. I see everything in direct links. Record companies themselves tend to marginalize the music by putting money into alternative bands, or fusion, both of which they know will only sell but so much. I believe if they were to put money behind, say Charles Gayle, have him on MTV, people would love it! They don't traditionally let a Charles Gayle on to that next level. The real tradition lies in doing something else besides ancient variations on Broadway show tunes. "
Peace and Pig Grease is the perfect illustration of that sentiment. An emboldened program of muscular angularity (check out Hobbs' "Theme"), Ornette-ish harmolodic lullaby and punk-rock deviousness.
Interestingly enough, despite this group's forward thinking music, Jim Hobbs says, "I don't really listen to too much recorded music after 1966. I do however realize that in all the great bands that ever were, jazz or otherwise, there were musicians who made those bands have an individual sound. In no instance is there just one individual who gave a great band it's sound.
The Fully Celebrated Orchestra is a group, although members can change within the band. But whatever person fills in has to fill in with the band's sound, that pocket of sound which exists where we are at our most relaxed."
Peace and Pig Grease finds this band at the crossroads of casual ("relaxed") authority and the breathtaking magic of musical invention.

Ludwig Van Trikt
 
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