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SomethingElse reviews the new Steve Davis CD…

Former Jazz Messenger Steve Davis might not have the name recognition of his Blakey forbear Curtis Fuller, but he’s no less a talented trombone player. We last examined his handiwork on Images: The Hartford Suite from a couple of years ago and now he’s set to release his second album since then, Gettin’ It Done. It’s another set of suave but poppin’ organic soul jazz. Davis again brings in Mike DiRubbo as his sax foil, but this time has Josh Bruneau on trumpet, Larry Willis on piano, Billy Williams on drums, and the ever-steady Nat Reeves on bass.

A very sharp set of performances, Davis and his crew produce enjoyable coves of John Coltrane’s “Village Blues” and Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny” (YouTube above), both recognizable but also fresh renditions. The rest of the fare are Davis’ own tunes, a great mixture of toe-tappin shuffles (“Steppin’ Easy”), hot blues (“Gettin’ It Done) and smooth, melancholy ballads (“Alike”). Like Images, Gettin’ It Done is another flawless exhibition of triple horn, 60′s style jazz.

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StepTempest reviews the new Steve Davis CD…

Trombonist-composer-educatorSteve Davis teaches at Hartt School of Music’s Jackie McLean Institute and The Artist Collective.  Mentored by saxophonist McLean, Davis (born in Binghampton, NY and raised in Worcester, MA) stayed in Hartford but has traveled around the world.  He was in the final edition of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, toured and recorded with Chick Corea’s Origins band and is an original member of One For All.  “Gettin’ It Done” is his 3rd CD for PosiTone and does not stray far from the hard-bop swing that animates much of the trombonist’s recordings.  It marks the 9th time Davis has led or co-led a session with alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo.  Also featured on the recording is several other long-time associates, pianist Larry Willisand bassist Nat Reeves.  Rounding out the crew is 24-year old drummer Billy Williams and recent Hartt School alum Josh Bruneau on trumpet and flugelhorn.

The title tell its all – the band “hits” from the first note and never loses its focus.  Opening with John Coltrane’s “Village Blues” (from the 1960 “Coltrane Jazz” Lp), the music is blessed by the leader’s warm tones and willingness to share the spotlight.  Willis’s rich chords lead the piece in, Reeves and Williams lock into the grooves and the front line presents the sweet melody (which would have sounded out of place on “Kind of Blue.”) The leader takes the first solo; his winning combination of his sweet tone and smart improvisations lead to DiRubbo’s mellow-with-an-edge alto solo. But the surprise here is the dynamic work of young Mr. Bruneau.  Throughout this program, his clear, clean, sound and feisty attack is a treat.  His funky approach on Davis’s “The Beacon” shows the influence of Freddie Hubbard while the “groove” should remind listeners of The Crusaders.  Williams does not settle into the groove; instead, he pushes the piece forward while Reeves’ strong bass support along with Willis’s bright chords gives the piece its shape.

Other highlights include the sprightly “Sunny” (yes, the tune by Bobby Hebb) with its joyful interplay of trombone and trumpet as well as the lovely and lyrical “Wishes” that closes the program. The latter opens with the leader and DiRubbo playing the handsome theme leading into a long piano excursion from Willis.  The pianist is a masterful accompanist while every one of his solos seems to dance atop the beat with glee (he puts the dance steps into “Steppin’ Easy” and the fire into “Longview.”)

Steve Davis is one of the people who makes music that reflects his true being;  to wit, the music on “Gettin’ It Done” is bright, highly rhythmical and melodic, never pushy or condescending.  The band is sharp and attentive, the solos almost always impressive and one feels quite satisfied after spending tine with this music.

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The JazzWord of Steve Davis “Gettin’ It Done”

Gettin’ it Done is a strong sextet outing with solid three-horn arrangements and inspired soloing. The ring leader of the ensemble is veteran trombonist Steve Davis whose straight-ahead, swinging original tunes are both ear-catching and memorable. Tunes such as the up-tempo title track, a minor blues with blistering solo turns from alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo, Davis and trumpeter Josh Bruneau, and “Longview,” a spirited hard bop piece, stand out as disc highlights.
Davis’ lyrical waltz “Wishes” finds pianist Larry Willis in strong form, backed by the solid pulse of Nat Reeves on bass and Billy Williams on drums.
From start to finish the disc is predictably hip.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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)


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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.

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Mike DiRubbo makes the hang on “The Scene”…

You can now hear episode 2 of “The Scene”, Hardbop’s monthly podcast. The podcast will feature a different jazz artist on the scene, either emerging or established and play excerpts from their latest release. This month we feature Mike DiRubbo a humble saxophonist from the New York/Connecticut area who came up in the late ’90s after graduating from the Hart School. We spoke about his time there, studying under the great Jackie McLean, and his decision to use organ and drums (sans guitar) for his latest record “Chronos”. Check out the podcast here:

Mike will be appearing at Smalls Jazz Club one week from today, thats March 24, 2011. If you are in the New York area, you wont want to miss this killer set. Stay tune next month for our next feature on “The Scene”. Thanks for listening.

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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