Posted on

SomethingElse Reviews Jordan Young…

A few years ago Pat Metheny made a solo guitar “covers” record What’s It All About, a record I adore as much for the melodies he picked as how he nursed them. In discussing the idea behind the album. Metheny said,

I was born in 1954 and all of these songs were songs from the Top 40 during my childhood and early teen years. It was a period when harmony and melody were still important and viable elements in popular music. Every one of these songs has something going on that is just hip on musical level, no matter how you cut it. These are all pieces that have stuck with me over the years.

This was truly a golden era of the pop songwriter, and one of the most successful songwriter teams, because they were one of the best, was melody maker Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David. Metheny did in fact cover one of their famous songs, “Alfie,” but any of another of their hits could have fit on that collection: “The Look of Love,” “Walk On By,” “Close To You,” “Always Something There To Remind Me,” “Do You Know The Way To San Jose,” and so on.

From the time of Tin Pan Alley, good melodies have made great fodder for jazz musicians, and one particular jazz drummer from Detroit recently tapped the Bacharach/David mother lode for his upcoming second release Cymbal Melodies. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” the 1969, Oscar-winning chart topper as sung by B.J. Thomas, is handled in a creative way by Young and his band.

Young makes the song a tale of three rhythms, starting with boogaloo, moving on to a James Brown funk cadence and then shifting to the double-time swing hinted at earlier. Ace organist Brian Charette, a veteran of Lou Donaldson’s bands, is well suited for this task, stating that classic melody for a couple of go around before holding down chords while Young briefly erupts on his trap kit. Later, the organist settles in on the harmony as guitarist Avi Rothbard steps to the fore with scorching notes and egged on by the increasing intensity of Charette and Young that brings the song to a rousing ending.

Hal David, as we all know now, passed away Saturday at the ripe old age of 91. But his songs, his conversational lyrics, will always remain fresh and youthful to folks like Pat Metheny, Jordan Young…and me.

Posted on

JazzWrap on Jordan Young “Cymbal Melodies”…

I said last year that Jordan Young had great skill as a leader as well as performer. His group is solid and concise.

Making the jump from his independent self-titled debut to the perfect home of Posi-Tone Records, Jordan Young delivers his newest release, Cymbal Melodies. And it is just as pronounced and confident as his debut. A strong step forward.

The two opening numbers, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” and “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” are killer. Jordan turns “Raindrops…” into a real barn-burning. It’s smokin’ and really fun. You almost don’t recognize it thanks to some crafty and infectious work by Charette and Rothbard. But Young’s kit sounds explosive throughout. “…Phoenix” is midtempo with a groovy melody that is set with some clever and understated timing by Young. This while Charette and Rothbard give the tune a real sense of emotional structure.
“Bird Bath” is sneaky in its structure thanks to Charette’s hip crunchy styling. The dialogue between Young and Charette (longtime bandmates) is superb. “Mood For McCann” is a funky number where Young unleashes Sucato and Rothbard to exchange some fierce lines that are quite soulful; they might have you reminiscing for Jack McDuff and Grant Green.
With Cymbal Melodies , Jordan Young reaches the next level in what looks to be a sparkling career. Posi-Tone was the perfect choice for this release, fitting nicely with the label’s current stable of artists. But more importantly, a great number of people will and should get to hear an artist who is quickly finding his voice as a composer and performer. Cymbal Melodies is a solid must listen.
Posted on

Music and More reviews Jordan Young “Cymbal Melodies”…

Jordan Young is a drummer leading a group on this recording that features Brian Charette on organ, Avi Rothbard on guitar and Joe Sucato on tenor saxophone. Young is a subtle drummer, using shades of texture and nuance instead of dramatic loud playing. The album is a very solid mainstream jazz session melding pop music, the earworm melody of “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” which flirts with cheese but never quite succumbs and “Roxanne” which is played a seductive and slithering funk, weaving in and out of the song, developing a nice feature for Sucato. The groups jazz roots are firmly planted, with a fine interpretation of Grant Green’s “Grantstand” taken as a fast trio performance with nice guitar soloing. Also interesting is “The Best Thing for Me Is You” where organ and guitar sit out, leaving Young on brushes and Sucato building deep and dark tones from his tenor saxophone, taking a unique and quite successful duo approach. The group ends the album with three trio pieces, all uptempo, anchored by the Young original “Mood for McCann” which deftly adds elements for soul to an already simmering stew.

Posted on

Here’s the first review for Jordan Young’s “Cymbal Melodies”…

I have to admit when I first saw the tune selection on this disc I wondered how in the world Jordan Young could pull it off. You have a hard bop tune  from Lee Morgan along with some more classic covers from Grant Green and Irving Berlin and mixed in you see some more dated popular standards from Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Webb and Sting. 

Life is easy, people make it hard. Same goes for music.

 Jordan Young’s Cymbal Melodies streets on Sept. 11th 2012 and given the variety of tunes served up the transitions are seamless and obvious potential pitfalls are easily avoided. The key to any good tune is melody. There is what I consider a predominant school of thought among some younger musicians that hanging out in odd meter and the speed is king mentality is a sure ticket for jazz stardom. Never reharm a cover tune to the point the original composer would have a hard time recognizing his own work. Young doesn’t. The release works so well because Young and this formidable 4tet allow the melody to take center stage. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” is turned into a shuffle beat with the intensity kicked up just a notch to breath fresh life into a perhaps tired classic. Sting’s “Roxanne” is at the same time left essentially alone as is “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” made popular by Glen Campbell. At time a beautiful melody can and needs to stand alone. Brian Charette does an amazing job playing it essentially straight and has a harmonic foundation as solid  as any organ player working today. Guitarist Avi Rothbard and saxophonist Joe Sucato work with the same sense of lyrical integrity to combine for an incredibly entertaining release. Should this 4tet continue working together and with this level of proficiency then the sky is the limit. 

“Best Thing For You Is Me” from Irving Berlin has just the right amount of pop to it without bordering on the easy listening on steroids cheese factor others have given the tune. Young contributes two originals in “Bird Bath” and “Mood For McCann” which sound like standards waiting in the on deck circle. As a drummer, Jordan Young has an innate ability to swing and play with the type of finesse that other players twenty years his senior struggle with at times. An exciting young talent to keep an eye on!

Another Posi-Tone debut that takes 5 stars easy. This is old school made new cool and done the right way. 

Posted on Leave a comment

Some more coverage for the new Mike DiRubbo “Chronos”CD….

Alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo has been around the New York scene for a while, doing the straight-ahead hard-bop thing. He studied with Jackie McLean, and has played with a number of highly regarded musicians older than himself, including Eddie Henderson, John Hicks and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. Chronos is his sixth CD as a leader, and his second for the Posi-Tone label. On his last album, 2009′s Repercussion, he fronted a band featuring vibes, bass and drums. This time out, he’s stripped it down to organ and drums (played by Brian Charette and Rudy Royston, respectively), and the results are stark and at times surprisingly hard-hitting. It would be unfair to suggest that this is an assaultive or even especially free record. Most any Larry Young Blue Note album would offer a greater level of raw abstraction; DiRubbo is a blues- and bop-based, swinging player, and given that every track here is either one of his compositions or written by Charette, the general vibe is one of soulfulness and groove. And yet…there’s some aggression here that vaults Chronos out of the pack of boring, hockey-rink organ-jazz discs. There are moments, during Charette’s solo on the title track, that almost venture into Keith Emerson (of Emerson, Lake & Palmer) territory, and later in the same piece, DiRubbo latches onto a three-note phrase and goes after it like a dentist drilling into the listener’s back-most molar, before embarking on a solo with some surprisingly screechy, harsh moments. That solo’s an exception, though. For most of the disc, DiRubbo is the stabilizing force, attempting to keep things in a gently bopping zone that wouldn’t throw the folks who come to jazz clubs to eat wildly overpriced chicken entrees. But Charette seems bent on subversion; at the end of “Excellent Taste,” which he wrote, he plays a hypnotic, almost psychedelic pattern as the track fades down, and it’s the best thing about the piece. Similarly, his work on the bluesy “Eight for Elvin” is weirder than it needs to be; some of his lines sound more indebted to Ray Manzarek of the Doors than to Jimmy Smith, John Patton or any other jazz organ player. Meanwhile, Rudy Royston attacks the drums with more than enough force to justify the track being titled in tribute to Elvin Jones, known as one of jazz’s hardest hitters during his time with John Coltrane. Royston also drives the band quite hard on the hammering (“uptempo” doesn’t do it justice) “Rituals,” and even when he’s laying down a relatively staid Latin groove (“Lilt,” which lives up to its title), he finds a way to do something interesting. And on the album’s closing track, “More Physical,” which could have been a deal-breaker, given that DiRubbo plays the (ugh) soprano sax, the drummer throws in enough unexpected accents with the toms and the rim of the snare that things stay interesting all the way to the four-minute mark (of five and a half), when the leader’s solo becomes quite shockingly piercing, as though Najee had suddenly become possessed by Evan Parker. The piece ends in soul jazz-meets-free jazz territory, which ought to come as a major surprise to fans of DiRubbo, Posi-Tone Records, and sax-organ-drums combos alike. This isn’t a skronky album by any means. But if you put it on and expect to curl up on your couch with a book, don’t be surprised if you find yourself glancing worriedly at the speakers a time or two.

Posted on

Peter Hum reviews Mike DiRubbo “Chronos”…

Chronos (Posi-Tone)
Mike DiRubbo

Chronos, from alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo, is a quintessentially Posi-Tone jazz CD that delivers high-level post-bop pleasures. DiRubbo’s a direct and passionate player who’s steeped in the power and modal prowess of icons such as John Coltrane and Kenny Garrett, as you can see from this clip:

On his new CD, DiRubbo leads a trio that includes the solid and soulful organist Brian Charette and the crisp and explosive drummer Rudy Royston through nine no-nonsense blowing vehicles of his own devising. The playing’s always committed and eloquent, and DiRubbo explores different moods within the post-bop box, from on the dark, sophisticated, Woody Shaw-style title track on one end to the loping, uplifting Excellent Taste to the more straightforward swingers Eight For Elvin and Lucky 13. The highlights come, in my opinion, when Royston pulls out the stops, which most notably happens on the disc’s brisk, punchy opener Minor Process, on More Physical, the simple but substantial disc-closer that features DiRubbo’s soprano saxophone, and on the taut groove tune Rituals.


Posted on

Ni Kantu review for Mike DiRubbo “Chronos”…

Chronos is altoist Mike DiRubbo’s sixth date as a leader and the first to feature him within the bristling context of organ and drums. A student of Jackie McLean (among others) at the Hartt School of Music, DiRubbo has gone on to work with a number of luminaries of modern straight-ahead jazz, such as trumpeter Jim Rotondi, trombonist Steve Davis, pianist Harold Mabern and drummer Joe Farnsworth. He’s joined here by drummer Rudy Royston and organist Brian Charette; the leader and the organist contribute all of the disc’s nine compositions. The opening “Minor Progress” certainly sounds like an ode to McLean’s mid-60s recordings in its stop-time trills and chugging bursts; DiRubbo is a little cooler than his mentor, picking apart thematic nuggets and worrying them in passages that also nod ever so slightly to Marion Brown. “Cool” isn’t to say unemotional – it’s clear that he’s a player with a lot of heart and energy – but more that one can hear him thinking for the first part of his solo, until he puts the gas pedal down and soars over a mighty rhythm clip. Charette has, like Larry Young or John Patton, a pianistic approach to the organ that fits nicely with the tune’s incisive character, though his solo is a bit brief.The title track that follows has overdubbed altos at the outset, giving the introduction a bit of a Living Space vibe, Royston and Charette spinning an Elvin-Young whorl behind DiRubbo’s searchingly sharp eviscerations, which alternate with passages of soft, lyrical introspection. Charette has a bit more space here, carving out a jaunty groove with subtle surges and eddies as bass pedal and drums keep loping time before the leader takes it out. “Rituals” is a decidedly funkier piece, supported by agitated backbeat and a simple, driving chord progression as DiRubbo builds tart phrases and burbling cries in curious opposition to the tune’s initial feel and expected outcome. A somewhat psychedelic, gooey organ statement shifts the tune’s direction yet again, building upon simplicity into dense, anthemic closure. The set is well-balanced between these more uptempo tunes and caressing, urban-twilight ballads that, when in good hands like these, offer another side of the trio’s capabilities. DiRubbo’s approach on “Nouveau” is delicate and slightly bitter, his improvisation full of quiet flurries and athletic runs that are still within the character of the piece, while steering clear of an easily embodied saccharine approach. I’m still wishing for a hotter recording quality on these Posi-Tone discs and I think that Chronos would benefit from that, but all in all it’s an excellent neo-bop date that should be heard, especially if one is pondering a dearth of truly engaging modern jazz recordings.

Posted on

ejazznews reviews Mike DiRubbo “Chronos”…
CD Reviews: Mike DiRubbo – “Chronos” – CD-2011 Posi-Tone Records

Posted by: editoron Sunday, March 27, 2011 – 04:02 PM
ReviewsGlenn AstaritaWest Coast USA based Posi-Tone Records continues to amass an impressive catalog built on promising young talent and well-known artists. Here, saxophonist Mike DiRubbo conveys a modern era spin on the traditional jazz-organ trio methodology while projecting a democratic group-centric mindset into the program.

DiRubbo and organist Brian Charette’s compositions generate staying power. Otherwise, DiRubbo is a smooth operator and dishes out more than enough pop and sizzle while sporting a fluent and radiant line of attack. Moreover, the trio lashes out with a consortium of precision-oriented unison choruses and off-kilter tonal contrasts within various modalities.
On the title piece “Chronos,” the frontline enjoys smooth sailing with a medium-tempo swing vamp amid a scrappy bridge, propelled by Rudy Royston’s sweeping drums. Surprisingly enough, the soloists morph the proceedings into minimalist territory with a repetitive and simple theme during the bridge. Then DiRubbo soars into the upper register to complement the intermittent detours, nooks and crannies.
The band intertwines aggressive frameworks with fluid bop motifs and lighthearted balladry. Charette’s “More Physical,” is the album closer and boasts an endearing harmonic vista via DiRubbo’s melodious soprano sax work and a memorable hook that is taken to a high-impact coda. On this piece, the band becomes ‘more physical,’ moving forward, spiced by the leader’s darting notes and Charette’s clustering organ voicings.
Overall, it’s a grand showing by a band that seamlessly merges superior technical acumen with vision, strong compositions and enough diversions to sustain interest on a continual basis. A persuasive outing indeed… – Glenn Astarita
Mike DiRubbo (alto, soprano saxophone), Brian Charette (organ), Rudy Royston (drums)


Posted on Leave a comment

Here’s the Lucid Culture write-up for Mike DiRubbo ” Chronos”….


Saxophonist Mike DiRubbo’s new album Chronos is a refreshingly different kind of B3 jazz album. Not that there’s anything wrong with funky organ shuffles, it’s just a lot of fun discovering something this different and rewarding. Here Brian Charette’s Hammond organ functions more like a piano or a guitar, comping chords, providing atmosphere rather than amping the funk factor to eleven. The way his chords are voiced is particularly cool – sometimes they evoke a guitar, other times they edge closer to soul music, more like Booker T. Jones than Jimmy Smith. Drummer Rudy Royston leaves a lot more space here than he usually does and keeps you wanting more – his signature rolls are there, but sometimes miles apart, or so it seems. It’s more of a challenge than a stretch for the rhythm section, an obviously enjoyable one and that translates for the listener. DiRubbo plays alto and soprano here, moving from matter-of-factly catch melodic excursions to the occasional wailing explosion: he doesn’t overemote or waste notes.

They don’t waste time getting going with the wryly titled, briskly scurrying Minor Progress, DiRubbo veering in and out of focus, Charette’s carbonated bursts evoking a late 60s/early 70s art-rock ambience and a little Royston break that only hints at what he’s capable of. The carefree, swinging title track has DiRubbo opening it using a pitch pedal for some simple chords and then choosing his spots judiciously, Charette following in the same vein until a rare squall from the sax over a hypnotically intensifying organ vamp. Another aptly titled one, Lilt, a jazz waltz, pairs off DiRubbo lyricism against Charette’s minimalist lines; the seriously catchy Rituals has the sax cleverly scraping the sidewalls of a circular organ lick, again hypnotically.

Charette has some songs here too. Nouveau, a cheerful ballad, pairs expansive sax against a velvety backdrop; another well-titled one, Excellent Taste has Charette matching DiRubbo’s fluid extrapolations, Royston unable to resist a jab or two on the toms here and there. And the absolutely gorgeous More Physical runs a catchy circular hook to a big, blustering, swirling soprano solo. The closest thing to a classic Jimmy Smith style B3 shuffle is Lucky 13, which benefits from DiRubbo holding it back from cliche territory, and Eight for Elvin, which they throw to Royston and he absolutely owns it – when DiRubbo goes insistent and wailing with the drums guarding the edges aggressively, it’s exquisite. Three guys on top of their game with some great songs. It’s out now on Posi-Tone; DiRubbo plays the cd release show for this one on March 24 at 9 at Smalls.

Posted on Leave a comment

Take a minute to check out Mike DiRubbo’s in studio performance on WBGO’s The Checkout…..

Studio Session: Mike DiRubbo Chronos Trio

March 8, 2011 by Josh Jackson
Filed under FeaturedStudio Sessions

Alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo’s organ trio performs music fromChronos (Posi-Tone) at WBGO.  Recorded February 22, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey.

Set List:
Rituals (DiRubbo)
Excellent Taste (Charette)
Eight for Elvin (DiRubbo)

Mike DiRubbo – alto saxophone
Brian Charette – Hammond C3 organ
Rudy Royston – drums

Producer and Host: Josh Jackson
Recording engineer: Michael Downes
Assisted by Michael McGoff