Monday, February 17, 2014

Mike DiRubbo - Threshold (Ksanti Records, 2014)

Alto saxophonist and composer Mike DiRubbo is a Connecticut native with many years experience on the New York jazz scene both as a leader and as a sideman. A student of the legendary Jackie McLean, DiRubbo has developed the same sharp and cutting tone of his mentor, and uses this to great advantage. This is a well performed album that touches on bebop, ballads and a few nods to more exploratory material. The music was recorded in late 2013 in Brooklyn featuring John Evans on trumpet, Brian Charette on piano, Ugonna Okegwo on bass and Rudy Royston on drums. The opening tracks “Threshold” and “Where There’s a Willis There’s Way” begin the album with a driving swing. DiRubbo and Evans make for a potent front line that develop from the same vein of the forward-thinking hard bop McLean pioneered on Blue Note in mid 1960’s. Royston has been omnipresent on the jazz scene recently and he shows why on “Pace” where his fast and deft rhythm puts the music into overdrive and gives just the right support for a lightning fast trumpet solo and bold and muscular saxophone feature. There are a couple of ballads to balance the cookers, “Faith” and “Salter of the Earth” slow the tempo and develop melodic textures and hues. But the group ends the album right where they began however, with a torrid bebop centered performance called “Bloomdido” sounding like a Charlie Parker inspired fast and complex performance that works well as does this album as a whole. Threshold -

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