Connecticut native Mike DiRubbo has made a name for himself as a featured saxophonist in New York-based groups led by trombonist Steve Davis, pianist David Hazeltine and many others. His sixth release as a leader, Chronos (Posi-Tone), is a hard-blowing, straight-ahead affair with organist Brian Charette and drummer Rudy Royston. The disc features nine original compositions by DiRubbo and Charette, ranging from up-tempo burners and bouncy waltzes, to modal workouts and Latin-inspired grooves.
Primarily an alto player, DiRubbo conveys a soulful edginess with a sound reminiscent of the late Jackie McLean, the legendary saxophonist with whom he studied under at the University of Hartford. An uncompromising bebop influence can be heard in DiRubbo’s soloing, especially on swinging numbers such as “Minor Adjustment” and “Lucky.” The dark funk of “Rituals” and swinging intensity of “Eight For Elvin”—presumably a tribute to drum legend Elvin Jones—gives way to explosive vamp sections with DiRubbo going for broke alongside Royston’s fiery drumming.
Charette provides solid support and contributes strong solos throughout the disc. The organist’s manipulation of the drawbars recalls the vibrato-laden greasiness of Don Patterson, especially on his odd-metered piece “More Physical,” with DiRubbo on soprano saxophone.
It’s refreshing to hear a group of first-rate players who know how to swing and aren’t the least bit bashful about letting a listener know it.