|| Jim Hobbs Fully Celebrated Orchestra
Peace & Pig Grease
Cat. No.: SHCD136
Jim Hobbs alto saxophone
Timo Shanko bass
Django Carranza drums
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
"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