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Mike DiRubbo: Threshold

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New York-based alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo is one of the most recognizable and formidable forces in the jazz world today. A former student of the late great jazz icon Jackie McLean and a fixture in the Big Apple's vibrant jazz scene, DiRubbo is no novice. He has a substantial discography, and experience performing with some of the best players in the world. The adventurous Threshold is the artist's eighth album as leader where--with the exception of Charlie Parker's Bebop classic “Bloomdido"--DiRubbo presents a landscape of fresh new original music, superbly interpreted by the latest incarnation of his swinging quintet.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mike DiRubbo: Threshold

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Mike DiRubbo's eight disc as a leader, Threshold finds the ever inventive alto saxophonist in a solidly hard bop environment that is reminiscent of Blue Note records of the 1950s but has a clear modern edge. In addition to leading a superb and sympathetic quintet, DiRubbo penned eight of the nine tracks on this riveting record with a momentum that never slacks from the first note to the last.DiRubbo's acerbic, passionate tone marks his tight and intelligent improvisations that seamlessly arise from the intricate and memorable heads of each composition. His embellishments of the melody on the dynamic ...

TAKE FIVE WITH...

Take Five With Mike DiRubbo

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Meet Mike DiRubbo:Born on July 25, 1970 in New Haven, Connecticut, Mike DiRubbo began his musical life as a junior high school clarinetist, and switched to alto saxophone at 12. A primarily self-taught saxophonist, he developed into a talented instrumentalist drawn inexorably to the notion of improvising. At a high school band concert, Mike had the opportunity to perform with the Dwike Mitchell--Willie Ruff duo, an experience that would add to his desire to be a professional musician and also spark his interest in jazz music. In the fall of 1988 DiRubbo entered the Jackie McLean ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mike DiRubbo: Chronos

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Piano has always been part of the package on saxophonist Mike DiRubbo's albums. Still, when DiRubbo made his Posi-Tone debut with Repercussion in 2009, he left the piano behind, relying instead on some harmonic underpinnings from vibraphonist Steve Nelson. Now, on his follow-up disc for the label, he moves into different piano-less territory with his first organ trio record. DiRubbo digs in on these nine original tracks, which shy away from organ group stereotypes. DiRubbo penned two-thirds of this material, with organist Brian Charette providing the other three tracks, and the majority of the songs lean heavily ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mike DiRubbo: Repercussion

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Over the past several years Mike DiRubbo has made engaging discs for the Criss Cross and Cellar Live labels. On Keep Steppin' (2001), Human Spirit (2003), and New York Accent (2006), the young alto and soprano saxophonist distinguished himself in bands comprised of some of the cream of New York City's straight-ahead players--Jim Rotondi, Joe Farnsworth, Mike LeDonne, and Peter Washington. One of DiRubbo's strengths during two of these sides is navigating the strong, expressive accompaniment of pianists David Hazeltine and Harold Mabern.

The difference between Repercussion, DiRubbo's most fully realized work to date, and its predecessors stems from a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mike DiRubbo: Repercussion

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Seven originals among nine songs usually means the music will be fresh. Originality and improvisation are key ingredients to saxophonist Mike DiRubbo's Repercussion.After playing clarinet in his early years, DiRubbo, a native of New Haven, Connecticut, switched to alto saxophone and later studied under Jackie McLean. His associations include Eric Alexander, Jim Rotondi and Michael Weiss. On Repercussion, he is supported by vibraphonist Steve Nelson, drummer Tony Reedus and bassist Dwayne Burno.The title song is an upbeat piece where Nelson's vibes function as a rhythm guitar. Burno's bass line helps carry the piece, likewise with Reedus' ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mike DiRubbo: Repercussion

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The immediate appeal of alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo's Repercussion is the replacement of the piano by the vibraphone as the rhythm section's harmony instrument. Guitar-based and piano-less rhythm sections have made their way into the mainstream, leaving the vibraphone-based rhythm section still a novelty.

DiRubbo is certainly not the first to employ such a format. Trombonist Grachan Moncur III's Evolution (Blue Note, 1963) had Bobby Hutcherson on vibes with no piano and saxophonist Wayne Escoffery's Veneration: Live at Smoke (Savant Records, 2007) used Joe Locke to splendid effect. Drummer Ralph Peterson's Fo'Tet Augmented (Criss Cross, 2004) pits clarinetist Don Byron ...

INTERVIEWS

Mike DiRubbo: The First Priority? Recording This Band

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For New York Accent: Live at the Kitano (Cellar Live, 2007), his fourth record as leader, alto saxophonist DiRubbo chose to forego the studio for the room at Manhattan's Kitano Hotel. DiRubbo picked the setting in part because, with paid studio dates becoming increasingly rare for independent jazz musicians, he realized he needed to take the reins of getting his next record out. So he assembled a killer band--piano legend Harold Mabern, long-time bassist-of-choice Dwayne Burno and drummer Tony Reedus--and captured their symbiotic spontaneity during two nights in February, 2006. Once he had the dates recorded, DiRubbo ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mike DiRubbo: New York Accent

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Despite its ever increasing international character, a good deal of the greatest jazz--particularly that performed in Manhattan clubs--is still played with a decidedly New York accent. The sound of the city is an urgent one--its tone dark, its rhythm intense. Saxophonist Mike DiRubbo speaks this language articulately, with a voice that clearly hearkens to his heroes, but is easily recognizable as his own. On this live date, leading a quartet--with an incendiary rhythm section of veteran pianist Harold Mabern and the indomitable bass and drum team of Dwayne Burno and Tony Reedus--through a swinging set at The Kitano, the altoist ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Mike DiRubbo Quartet At Smoke

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Mike DiRubbo Quartet Smoke New York, NY March 16, 2006

Alto and soprano saxophonist Mike DiRubbo returned recently to Smoke, an important Upper West Side venue that presents established and up-and-coming talent. A decade ago, Smoke (then named Augie's) was the place where the Hartt School of Music graduate began to stake his claim in New York City's fiercely competitive straight-ahead jazz scene.

Throughout the opening set, DiRubbo showed why he's earned a semi-regular gig as a leader at the club. His quartet included pianist Harold Mabern, the redoubtable seventy-year-old pianist who is venerated ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mike DiRubbo: Human Spirit

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Alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo's most recent outing for Criss Cross features the Jackie McLean protege in the fast company of trumpeter Jim Rotondi, pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Joe Farnsworth (two thirds of the sextet One For All) in a set that showcases his growing talent and expansive command of the jazz idiom.

Like his mentor, DiRubbo is no run-of-the-mill neo-bopper. He has his own unique sound on the saxophone, which while clearly primarily McLean-influenced, also exhibits an almost equally strong semblance to Pharoah Sanders' in its timbre. Similarly, his expansive musical vocabulary exhibits a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mike DiRubbo: Human Spirit

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On his second Criss Cross release, alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo thrives on the challenges posed by a great rhythm section. Pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Joe Farnsworth, most notably of the cooperative sextet One For All, have lit a fire under dozens of significant jazz recordings over the past decade. Full of inspired interplay and subtle shifts in emphasis, their concentrated swing supports and provokes the soloist.

Regardless of the material or the tempo, the momentum they generate is too decisive to be ignored. DiRubbo (as well as his front line partner, trumpeter/flugelhornist Jim Rotondi) ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mike DiRubbo Quintet: Keep Steppin'

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One of the great pleasures of being a jazz fan is bearing witness as a young musician makes the leap from someone to watch to a powerful, not-to-be-missed performer. Therefore it is deeply satisfying to hear Mike DiRubbo, only two years after his promising debut on Sharp Nine, emerge withKeep Steppin’, a brilliantly realized recording for Gerry Teekens’ Criss Cross label. Loosely basing the music within the parameters of hard bop, DiRubbo takes this part of the jazz tradition and, by the sheer resoluteness of his playing, forges something potent and essential. The disc rides high on the combined strengths ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mike DiRubbo: From the Inside Out

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As the title of his debut album on the Sharp Nine label suggests, alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo's musical imagination resides in that space between the mainstream and the avant-garde. It's no surprise, then, to learn that he's a former student of the great Jackie McLean, who, perhaps more than anyone, brought a tough, bebop and blues-based sensibility to the “new thing" experiments of the 1960s. Like McLean, DiRubbo pursues a mostly straight-ahead style with a clear respect for the jazz tradition, but doesn't always bow allegiance to the expected post-bop gods.

DiRubbo's fine group features trombonist Steve Davis (now playing ...



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