In the course of a year, drummer and composer Gary Hobbs cycles through multiple musical personalities. Big band drummer, clinician for high schools and colleges, sideman with a variety of groups and a leader of his own, Hobbs goes from straight-ahead and swing to funk and fusion.
That taste for variety is evident on his latest CD, "Of My Times."
Within the variety, though, we hear a composer and arranger in love with the rhythmic intricacies of jazz funk in the "Bitches Brew" tradition ("Hades Ladies," "Robot Love," "The Bubba Stomp"), as well as rich counterpoint passages imaginatively voiced for three or more horns. Hobbs' arrangements of "Fever" and "Besame Mucho," for instance, lend new textures and meanings to those standards, and the through-composed title track showcases his use of the symphonic tradition. Greta Matazza's scat singing soars on "The Look of Love," held aloft by smooth chords on the Hammond B-3 organ and propulsive horn lines.
Hobbs also makes sure that each instrumental voice gets equal weight. On "Fever," he even turns Dave Captein's bass line into a melody. These are richly detailed pieces.
Hobbs has the right players for it, too: Jeff Uusitalo (trombone), Paul Mazzio (trumpet) and Tim Jensen (woodwinds), as well as keyboard players, including Tom Grant, George Mitchell and Marc Seales. Nancy Ives' cello, Rick Haydon's guitar and Mike Horsfall's vibes add color to this sampler from a composer and arranger who locates himself deep within the musical palette of his generation.