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

A potent concoction that will hopefully raise the "fully celebrated" of the band's name from irony to reality.

The Fully Celebrated

Drunk On the Blood of the Holy Ones

Label: AUM Fidelity
US Release Date: 2009-05-26
UK Release Date: 2009-05-25
Artist Website

Along with guitarist/bassist Joe Morris, alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs has been at the forefront of Boston's avant-garde jazz community for the better part of two decades. Although he's done sporadic work as an ensemble player (most notably with the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra), the bulk of his work has been documented as a composer and leader of his long-standing trio (and occasionally quartet), the Fully Celebrated Orchestra. Traditionally, three or four men does not an orchestra make, which is perhaps why Hobbs has shortened the moniker to simply the Fully Celebrated for his newest album. Either way, it's a winning addition to the saxophonist's discography and one that has the potential to increase his profile beyond the Boston/New York City axis.

Drunk On the Blood of the Holy Ones is the Fully Celebrated's seventh recording overall, but its first for AUM Fidelity, which possesses a far greater reach in terms of distribution than the smaller jazz labels that have released the group's previous recordings. The AUM Fidelity association also pays off with a stellar studio location -- the album was recorded at Systems Two studio in Brooklyn, a location renowned both for its warm, organic results and its openness to working with avant-garde jazz artists. The remarkable sound engineering and no-nonsense mix heard on the album make it worth a listen for anyone interested in the sonic arts.

Hobbs is sole composer for the album's eight pieces, but the trio is credited with arrangements throughout; for a band that's been together for almost 20 years, one gets the feeling that a lot of what's heard in the end results takes shape in the moment of performance. 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.

"Moose and Grizzly Bear's Ville" leads the album off in a slightly awkward fashion with its loping, stilted groove; something uptempo like "Reptoid Alliance" might have fared better to draw the listener in. Yet Hobbs' elastic approach to tonality and fearless taste when it comes to employing extended techniques on the alto works to set the mood regardless of pace. As the album progresses, the sequencing appears perhaps more deliberate -- there's a predominance of midtempo pieces throughout, broken only by the disc's sole excursion into fire music, "Conotocarius".

Also worth mentioning are the dub-style mixing techniques used on a couple of pieces. Studio trickery is frequently a detriment to jazz recordings, but the liberal echo applied to Hobbs' alto on the title track bounces it across the sonic spectrum while Timo Shanko's wicked bass line conjures the ghost of King Tubby. The album's final piece, "Dew of May", employs a more subtle variation on this approach as Hobbs' alto acquires some reverb and echo-enhanced sustain that perfectly fits the song's stately vibe.

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.






PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.


David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.


Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".


Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.


The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.


Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.


NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.


South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.


Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.