122

Mike DiRubbo: Human Spirit

David A. Orthmann By

Sign in to view read count
Mike DiRubbo: Human Spirit 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) meets the trio on equally resolute terms, carving out his own space and displaying a distinct identity on every track.

'Transfer,' DiRubbo's original composition taken at a medium-to-up tempo, opens the disc in a fine fashion. His edgy, acid-like tone cuts through everything else and ratchets up the level of excitement. Weaving his way through Hazeltine's sleight-of-hand chords, Washington's sturdy walking, and the heft of Farnsworth's snare drum accents, DiRubbo's ideas move in a logical yet unpredictable manner. Most impressive is the alto saxophonist's way of varying his rhythmic cadences so as to avoid any hint of monotony. For a time he'll swing in a traditional, bebop-like manner, then briefly take things off course a bit by jamming sixteenth note passages that land in odd places; or he'll hold a note for a couple of beats and abruptly bend the pitch.

Hank Mobley's lilting 'Bossa For Baby' serves as a vehicle for three short but persuasive solos. Blending a few long, pointed phrases into an otherwise laid-back presentation, Rotondi's flugelhorn sounds warm and inviting. DiRubbo's two choruses create suspense by juxtaposing relatively relaxed playing and terse, jolting lines. He keeps the listener guessing by restlessly moving from one mode to another, always mindful of the effect of each shift on the solo as a whole. Buoyed by Washington's sparse bass line, Hazeltine's one chorus covers a lot of ground, including an expressive pause in the middle of a handful of short locutions; an extended series of sparkling single-note passages; and a chordal segment that leads back to the theme.

In some of his best work of the set, DiRubbo's solo on 'Throwback' is full of wonderfully subtle changes in stress that are encouraged by the rhythm section. They lay down a lithe, medium tempo groove that gets denser and seems to expand as he goes along. DiRubbo's first chorus is almost blissfully melodic, and while making the transition into the second he hints that things are about to get turbulent. Still he resists the temptation to play convoluted passages in favor of staying with a more straightforward approach. While sustaining an agreeable feeling, DiRubbo builds without ever reaching for a climax or sounding overwrought.


Track Listing: 1. Transfer; 2. Moon River; 3. Human Spirit; 4. Minor March; 5. North Shore Reflections; 6. Bossa For Baby; 7. Throwback; 8. Down.

Personnel: Mike DiRubbo--alto sax; Jim Rotondi--trumpet, flugelhorn; David Hazeltine--piano; Peter Washington--bass; Joe Farnsworth--drums.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Criss Cross | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Take Five With...
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
Read more articles
George Kahn George Kahn
piano
Francesco Cafiso Francesco Cafiso
saxophone
Teo Macero Teo Macero
producer
Ted Nash Ted Nash
sax, tenor
Grant Stewart Grant Stewart
sax, tenor
Oliver Lake Oliver Lake
saxophone
Idit Shner Idit Shner
saxophone
Don Braden Don Braden
sax, tenor

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Steam In The Casa" CD/LP/Track Review Steam In The Casa
by Nicola Negri
Published: August 15, 2016
Read "I'll Be Seeing You" CD/LP/Track Review I'll Be Seeing You
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 24, 2016
Read "Message In Motion" CD/LP/Track Review Message In Motion
by David A. Orthmann
Published: October 27, 2016
Read "The Day After" CD/LP/Track Review The Day After
by David A. Orthmann
Published: February 14, 2017
Read "Fellow Creatures" CD/LP/Track Review Fellow Creatures
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 25, 2016
Read "Binary" CD/LP/Track Review Binary
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 5, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!