Signal To Noise: Taylor Ho Bynum, Fonda/Stevens Group, The Fully Celebrated, Darius Jones and Joe Morris

December 14, 2009

The Winter 2010 issue of Signal To Noise arrived this weekend and with it reviews of the latest releases from Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings, the Fonda/Stevens Group, The Fully Celebrated, the Darius Jones Trio and the Joe Morris Quartet.

“Bynum’s compositions consistently engage and amplify the texts [from his sister’s novel, Madeleine is Sleeping],” writes Stuart Broomer in his review of Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records), “and the performances are at a high level. Vocalist Kyoko Kitamura ranges from pensive dramatic readings to jazz-inflected vocals and creative improvisations, performing admirably in the divergent settings. The group’s improvisational skills come to the fore on pieces by three great composers—Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra—whose works are all subtly complementary…the results are driving, focused, expressive performances that make the most of the jazz tradition.”

“After 20 years of musical partnership, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, bassist Joe Fonda, drummer Harvey Sorgen and trumpeter Herb Robertson have developed a rich chemistry,” declares James Hale. “On Memphis, their 11th recording, the quartet surges with energy—equal parts Stevens’ proclivity for aggresive vamps, Robertson’s slippery slalom runs, and a wrecking crew of a rhythm duo. When the mood turns somber individual members find ways of keeping the tension high, whether its Fonda’s abrasive arco on ‘For My Brother’ or the free segments that alternate with Stevens’ pretty theme on ‘Whale Majesty.'”

“Alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs, bassist Timo Shanko and drummer Django Carranza hammer away at eight slices of groove-based music that is is peppy, incisive and yes, amusing,” explains Jay Collins in his review of Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity). “The Fully Celebrated is a group that doesn’t take themselves too seriously, but the music is of high caliber and a hell of a lot of fun.”

Marc Medwin describes the Darius Jones Trio’s debut, Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity), as “a barn-burner from note one. Jones could not have chosen better musicians to enter into his world, with Cooper-Moore and drummer Rakalam Bob Moses enhancing every moan, cry and shriek emanating from his alto.”

Jay Collins calls the Joe Morris Quartet’s second release, Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity), “Morris at his most accessible. His tremendous single-note flurries come to bear immediately on the boppish ‘Backbone’ and the exuberantly swinging ‘Imaginary Solutions.’ The quartet’s keen melodic sense is eveident on ‘Ashes’ and the ruminative ‘Animal,’ especially in Hobbs’s earthy, gripping saxophone playing. Hobbs and Morris’s unison lines against the rhythm section’s restless activity are part of the record’s pleasures. Like Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones, Today on Earth has it all: smart compositional structures that launch tasty, unpredictable improvisations.”

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Jazziz: The Fully Celebrated + Michael Musillami

September 24, 2009

The new Fall 2009 issue of Jazziz features reviews of The Fully Celebrated’s Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity) and the Michael Musillami Trio + 3’s From Seeds (Playscape Recordings).

“The album feels fresh and playful,” writes Michael Roberts about the former, “displaying the creative exuberance typically associated with young players in the joy-of-discovery phase. [Alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs’] approach empasizes wit, accessibility and a willingness to venture into disparate stylistic territories…the longtime bandmates can do more than genre-hop. The Fully Celebrated’s heady blend brims with a vitality that hasn’t ebbed with the passage of time.”

“Guitarist Michael Musillami performs one of the best high-wire acts in jazz,” declares Ed Hazell, “walking the line between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ without ever losing his poise. There’s no predicting the direction of any given tune. Arrangements make consistently imaginative and effective use of the horns. Seamlessly assembled and performed, From Seeds features not such a trio plus three as a fully realized sextet.”


PopMatters.com + The Wire Review The Fully Celebrated

August 13, 2009

PopMatters.com’s Scott Hreha and The Wire‘s Philip Clark both weighed in on The Fully Celebrated’s most recent release, Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity), in reviews published this week.

Overall, the arrangements musically capture the latent humor in Hobbs’ song titles and showcase the trio’s incredible rapport.  Together, they’re able to shift on a dime from groove to freedom and back again, falling in and out of time as if affected by a constantly shifting series of magnetic fields.
Whether experimental or unadorned, the album’s production feels like a natural extension of the trio’s talent—something that forward-thinking jazz groups have been chasing since the 1960s, yet is rarely achieved.  This, together with the solid musical performances by Hobbs and his cohorts, makes Drunk On the Blood of the Holy Ones a potent concoction that will hopefully raise the “fully celebrated” of the band’s name from tongue-in-cheek irony to reality.

“Overall, the arrangements musically capture the latent humor in [Jim] Hobbs’ song titles and showcase the trio’s incredible rapport,” Hreha writes. “Together, they’re able to shift on a dime from groove to freedom and back again, falling in and out of time as if affected by a constantly shifting series of magnetic fields… a potent concoction that will hopefully raise the ‘fully celebrated’ of the band’s name from tongue-in-cheek irony to reality.”

Clark adds, “It’s kind of annoying when someone’s been making great music since 1987 but you’ve only just found out. His sharp intensity and machine gun attack when approaching abstract funk has obvious roots in Ornette’s 1980s Prime Time principles…but Hobbs’ immersion in reggae and dub soon asserts itself. ‘Reptoid Alliance’ is peppered with saxophone multiphonics that hit on the backbeats, as he grinds against bassist Timo Shanko’s and drummer Django Carranza’s funk groove.”


Avant Music News Picks The Fully Celebrated

June 17, 2009

The Fully Celebrated‘s new CD, Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity), as well as its previous release, 2005’s Lapis Exilis (Skycap Records) featuring Taylor Ho Bynum, are among the picks of the week at Avant Music News.


Boston Globe: The Fully Celebrated At Ryles

June 2, 2009

Steve Greenlee reviews The Fully Celebrated’s May 29th Boston CD release party for Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity) at Ryles Jazz Club in today’s Boston Globe.

“The Fully Celebrated is a force to be reckoned with, in Boston and beyond,” Greenlee writes. “Much of this has to do with the power of the songwriting on the trio’s CD, Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones, which it celebrated fully Friday night at Ryles. Their new album is one of the finest jazz discs of the year, full of innovative compositions, great grooves, and inspired playing.”


The Fully Celebrated Reviewed In AAJ-NY, Dusted

June 1, 2009


The Fully Celebrated’s AUM Fidelity debut, Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones, continues to garner positive reviews.

For their latest recording, Boston’s The Fully Celebrated have dropped the orchestral tag from their name, but retain their wide ranging eclecticism, all transmuted through a jazz prism. A shared history in roots reggae bears fruit on the title track but Hobbs and Shanko have also plumbed the further reaches of free jazz and their facility across a range of styles is in evidence throughout this disc…an irreverant ride.

“For their latest recording,” writes AllAboutJazz-New York‘s John Sharpe, “Boston’s The Fully Celebrated have dropped the orchestral tag from their name, but retain their wide ranging eclecticism, all transmuted through a jazz prism. A shared history in roots reggae bears fruit on the title track, but Hobbs and Shanko have also plumbed the further reaches of free jazz and their facility across a range of styles is in evidence throughout this disc…an irreverant ride.”

Dusted’s Marc Medwin adds, “Now pared down to a trio, the group has more space to open up and stretch out on these fascinating new compositions, and they rise to the occasion. Whatever effects are employed (and they vary throughout the disc), the playing is tight and the groove-based tracks boast creativity from all involved. This trio has crafted a disc full of power and intrigue on every level.”


The Fully Celebrated Live In Brooklyn & Boston

May 28, 2009
Photo by Lillian Shrank

Photo by Lillian Shrank

The Fully Celebrated will fully celebrate their new CD, Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity), at tonight’s concert at Barbès in Brooklyn and tomorrow night’s show at Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge, MA.

In his CD review in this week’s Time Out New York, Steve Dollar writes, “Boston free-bird Jim Hobbs and his trio, the Fully Celebrated, get it, and the proof is in its latest sweat-soaked album, Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones. The disc has that airy, open feel and loose-limbed instinct that make the music immediately appealing, as well as an Ornette-ish pedigree in Hobbs’s darting alto saxophone flights. Timo Shanko’s basslines sometimes recall the clean harmonic mesh and folksy charm of Charlie Haden, but with drummer Django Carranza, the rhythm section glides seamlessly from dubby textures to bucket-of-blood swagger.”

For more early reviews, check out AllAboutJazz.com, All Music Guide, the Boston Phoenix and Music & More.