The Fully Celebrated | Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones

AUM Fidelity (2009)
By JON GARELICK  |  May 18, 2009
3.5 3.5 Stars


After two albums with cornettist Taylor Ho Bynum, and now dropping "Orchestra" from their name, this venerable Boston avant-garde street band are again a trio — and they're still a virtuoso ensemble. Over a loping beat from bassist Timo Shanko and drummer Django Carranza, alto-sax Jim Hobbs enters on "Moose and Grizzly Bear's Ville" as the sad clown (Moose or Bear?), all bent notes and aw-shucks shuffle, before peeling off a solo of Ornette-like aphorisms. That's as close as he gets to impersonation, though.

There's no one with a more individual sound and conception than Hobbs — strangled and crying one minute, soft and bluesy the next, or just plain Johnny Hodges purdy. The other similarity he shares with Ornette is a vocal attack — avant-saxist shrieks and squawks, yes, but also a vocal approach to phrasing and timbre, so that on, for example, "Brothers of Heliopolis," the notes take on the character of individual syllables and words. The Fully Celebrated are noted for their world-music jazz fusions, and here they add a bit of dub echo to their slow-groove reggae-noir title track.

"Conotocarius" is a frantic-themed free-jazz scorcher; "Pearl's Blues (Your What Hurts?)" takes in every sound in Hobbs's bag without breaking mood; "Dew of May" is a slow drone — one long, sustained invented melody, solitary and mournful. For good measure, the CD includes the band's 2005 Tony Hawk mash-up video "Can You Do the Mackie Burnett?"

THE FULLY CELEBRATED | Ryles, 212 Hampshire St, Cambridge | May 29 at 9 pm | $10 | 617.876.9330

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