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Mike DiRubbo

Connecticut-born, New York-based alto saxophonist/bandleader/composer/educator Mike DiRubbo was born on July 25th, 1970. His first instrument was the clarinet, which he started playing in the fourth grade. He switched to alto saxophone at the age of twelve. Largely self-taught, his interest in jazz was sparked when he performed with the Dwike Mitchell/Willie Ruff duo in high school. After graduating high school, DiRubbo enrolled in the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz of the Hartt School, University of Hartford, where legendary jazz alto saxophonist Jackie McLean – who played with Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers – personally instructed DiRubbo, who also studied with pianist Hotep Galeta, bassists Nat Reeves and Rick Rozie and classical saxophonist Ken Radnofsky. DiRubbo graduated from college in 1992 with a Bachelor of Music degree, stayed in his home state for a few years, gigging with fellow Hartt School alumnus, trombonist Steve Davis, and later moved to New York City in 1997.

In New York, DiRubbo worked with a wide variety of artists including Eric Alexander, Joe Farnsworth, David Hazeltine, Brian Lynch, Michael Weiss, John Swana, Ronnie Matthews, Essiet Essiet and Harold Mabern. DiRubbo appears as a sideman on Steve Davis’ eight recordings: The Jaunt; Crossfire; Vibe Up!; Systems Blue; Outlook; Live at Smalls, Images and Gettin’ It Done. His other recorded sideman work includes dates with Mario Pavone, Jim Rotondi, Lauren Sevian, Andrew Adair, Dezron Douglas, Brian Charette and Hiromi Kasuga, and can be heard on the Fresh Sounds, Criss Cross, Double Time Jazz, Steeplechase and Knitting Factory labels.

DiRubbo’s CD’s as a leader include several quintet and quartet dates: From the Inside Out (Sharp Nine Records 1999); Keep Steppin’ (Criss Cross Jazz 2001); Human Spirit (Criss Cross Jazz 2003); New York Accent: Live at the Kitano (Cellar Live 2007) with Mabern; Repercussion (Posi-Tone Records 2009); Chronos (Posi-Tone Records 2011), an organ trio date with Brian Charrette and drummer Rudy Royston, Four Hands, One Heart (2011) on his new Ksanti Records label, a stunning duet with Fort Apache pianist Larry Willis – who also worked with Jackie McLean and his latest, Threshold (Ksanti Records 2014) featuring Mike’s latest quintet.

DiRubbo has been featured in articles, reviews, and interviews in magazines such as Saxophone Journal, Hothouse, Jazz Times, Downbeat, Jazz Journal, Cadence, Swing Journal, Jazz Folio, JazzWise, All Music Guide and All About Jazz. He has taught master classes at several institutions including The University of Miami, University of Central Florida, William Paterson University, New York University, Baldwin Wallace University, The New School, Loyola University (New Orleans), The Jackie McLean Institute and the Litchfield Jazz Camp.

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Liner Notes

Mike DiRubbo: Human Spirit

Read "Mike DiRubbo: Human Spirit" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan

In an era that seems to more fully embrace the idea of the 'tough young tenor,' alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo puts forth a singular voice that stands apart from the crowd. With exceptions such as Kenny Garrett, Steve Wilson, and Vincent Herring, DiRubbo is one of the few musicians of this generation to choose the alto horn as his main axe, although his sound and approach seems heavily rooted in the conventions of the tenor and its many historic practitioners. ...

Liner Notes

Steve Davis: Systems Blue

Read "Steve Davis: Systems Blue" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan

From Kid Ory to Roswell Rudd, the role of the trombone has changed dramatically over the brief span of jazz history, as we know it. Whether it be keeping a beat via the style of “tailgating," exploring a multitude of textural possibilities through the challenges of the avant-garde, or working somewhere in that middle ground that we call mainstream jazz, the instrument has remained a highly expressive vehicle for communication within the idiom. It's somewhat surprising then that a fairly ...

Album Review

Faiz Lamouri: Inner Light

Read "Inner Light" reviewed by Chris May

Inner Light is tenor saxophonist and composer Faïz Lamouri's follow-up to his promising debut, Wonders (Soprane, 2016). It does not disappoint and begs the question, why have we had to wait four years? Moroccan-born, Lamouri moved to Paris in 2004, where he studied at the American School of Modern Music until 2008. He then moved to New York City, where he continued his studies at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. He returned to France ...

Album Review

Mike DiRubbo: Threshold

Read "Threshold" reviewed by Edward Blanco

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 ...

Album Review

Mike DiRubbo: Threshold

Read "Threshold" reviewed by Hrayr Attarian

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 ...

Take Five With...

Take Five With Mike DiRubbo

Read "Take Five With Mike DiRubbo" reviewed by AAJ Staff

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 ...

Album Review

Mike DiRubbo: Chronos

Read "Chronos" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

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 ...

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"[DiRubbo’s] solos seem to leap out of the speakers, with an intensity, at times, that borders on ferocious." - Richard B. Kamens, Step Tempest

“The Grim Reaper’s pop was one bad dude and DiRubbo shows he can lead a New York sax trio and swing a sax like Chronos could swing a scythe.” - Chris Spector, The Midwest Record

"Mike DiRubbo plays with fire and intelligence, and his music dances with life." Francis Davis, author of “Like Young”

“…a powerful, not-to-be-missed performer.” David A. Orthmann, allaboutjazz.com

“…certainly one of the most exciting young alto saxophonists to emerge in quite some time.” Chris Hovan, Jazz&Blues Report

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Primary Instrument

Saxophone, alto


New York City

Willing to teach

Beginner to advanced



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Innner Light

Self Produced



Self Produced



Posi-Tone Records



Posi-Tone Records


New York Accent

Cellar Live


Human Spirit

Criss Cross



From: Repercussion
By Mike DiRubbo

New Year's Dream

From: New York Accent
By Mike DiRubbo



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