Led by saxophonist Jim Hobbs, and formerly known as The Fully Celebrated Orchestra, the group has been a fixture on Boston’s jazz scene for more than two decades. For its first release in four years, the founding line-up of Hobbs, bassist Timo Shanko and drummer Django Carranza returned to the studio to document eight new quintessentially eclectic compositions.
“Jim Hobbs and his Fully Celebrated Orchestra combine vast musical prowess and playful, irreverent intelligence,” wrote AllAboutJazz.com’s Paul Olson in his review of the group’s most recent release, 2005’s Lapis Exilis (Skycap Records). “No one today is playing the alto better than Hobbs—the vast range of tones he summons from the small horn is altogether remarkable…Carranza and Shanko are a devastating rhythm section…a powerhouse group. Jim Hobbs and the Fully Celebrated Orchestra play virtuoso jazz music with a marked eclecticism.”
“The FCO first gained notoriety in the rock clubs—or, at least, it was the rock crowd that first created the buzz,” recalls longtime Boston Phoenix arts writer Jon Garelick. “Maybe that’s because the band are proponents of old-fashioned avant-garde inclusiveness: funk, Latin, blues, Balkan, and any number of ‘world’ melodies, scales, and rhythms show up in the FCO book, with plenty of free-jazz-collective chatter. Other reference points are Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry and Thomas Chapin, but the band’s personality is its own.”
Founded in 1987, The Fully Celebrated Orchestra began as the Jim Hobbs Trio, a group that mostly performed on the streets of Boston. It recorded its debut, Babadita, under that original name for Silkheart Records in 1993, but by the time the label released its follow-up later that same year, the ironically over-sized new name was in place.
Four more records, most capturing the band in the live setting, would follow over the next dozen years, including two as a quartet with cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum in 2002 and 2005. Following a period of relative inactivity following Bynum’s departure to New York, Hobbs reconvened the band’s original line-up in October 2008 to record a new collection of original material, which they recorded live and mixed utilizing the latest Dub technology.
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