Mike DiRubbo unleashes a big sound and takes care of business on his new CD "Repercussion." Joining DiRubbo on the date are vibist Steve Nelson, and his long time rhythm section of bassist Dwayne Burno, and the drummer Tony Reedus. With a program of exciting new compositions, and a few tasty covers thrown in for good measure, the session really swings and soars into the stratosphere. We live in a world of cause and effect, and with this dynamic performance Mike DiRubbo is sure to affect a pleasing "Repercussion" in ardent listeners everywhere.
The immediate appeal of alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo's Repercussion is the replacement of the piano by the vibraphone as the rhythm section's harmony instrument. Guitar-based and piano-less rhythm sections have made their way into the mainstream, leaving the vibraphone-based rhythm section still a novelty. DiRubbo is certainly not the first to employ such a format. Trombonist Grachan Moncur III's Evolution (Blue Note, 1963) had Bobby Hutcherson on vibes with no piano and saxophonist Wayne Escoffery's Veneration: Live at Smoke (Savant Records, 2007) used Joe Locke to splendid effect. Drummer Ralph Peterson's Fo'Tet Augmented (Criss Cross, 2004) pits clarinetist Don Byron against vibraphonist Bryan Carrott. The vibraphone provides more wide open space when used in place of a piano, charging the remaining instruments the responsibility of carrying additional creative water. In this way it is perfect as a harmony instrument or for soloing. But enough about vibes, they are not leading the date. DiRubbo is an alto saxophonist and a darn good one at that. A student of the late Jackie McLean, his tone is full-choked like Dexter Gordon and King Curtis's tenor saxophones. DiRubbo illustrates these characteristics on the opening original minor blues, "Repercussion." Nelson lays down a skeleton riff that this picked up by bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Tony Reedus (who passed away shortly after this recording). Nelson's tone is sharp and close, like that of a marimba, and DiRubbo soars in an understated way through his serpentine head and solo. Dave Brubeck's "The Duke" is one of the two standards on the disc. It is presented coolly, not veering far from the song that enchanted Miles Davis' Miles Ahead (Columbia, 1957) sessions. DiRubbo keeps his groove going through the remainder of the disc, providing a fully satisfying jazz offering. --C. Michael Bailey - AllAboutJazz.com
Seven originals among nine songs usually means the music will be fresh. Originality and improvisation are key ingredients to saxophonist Mike DiRubbo's Repercussion. After playing clarinet in his early years, DiRubbo, a native of New Haven, Connecticut, switched to alto saxophone and later studied under Jackie McLean. His associations include Eric Alexander, Jim Rotondi and Michael Weiss. On Repercussion, he is supported by vibraphonist Steve Nelson, drummer Tony Reedus and bassist Dwayne Burno. The title song is an upbeat piece where Nelson's vibes function as a rhythm guitar. Burno's bass line helps carry the piece, likewise with Reedus' crisp work on the drums and cymbals. After DiRubbo's lead, Nelson solos. "Lunar" injects more energy. The quartet is sharp, with all players showing their chops, whether in lead or background. The alto is out front early, followed by Nelson. After DiRubbo's brief lead, he and Nelson engage in an extended dialogue, setting up the song's conclusion. "Nightfall" is a more easygoing selection with Nelson, Reedus and Burno setting down a walk-in-the-park pace while DiRubbo leads. As he does throughout, DiRubbo makes it seem effortless, demonstrating several multiple-notes-per-second phrases, including one extended roll. Reedus mixes some rim shots with the cymbals during Nelson's solo. Though DiRubbo is the bandleader for this set, Nelson is as much of a force. The sax and vibes complement each other well and with Reedus and Burno providing the backdrop, Repercussion scores well. --Woodrow Wilkins - AllAboutJazz.com
Not only does everybody have to be someplace, everything comes from someplace. Getting specific, NYC alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo is an acolyte of the late great alto icon Jackie McLean but he s no imitator/knockoff, or one of these 1980s-type jazz suits that s intent on reliving an idealized past (i.e., Blue Note and Prestige circa 1954-1966). DiRubbo has a wide, hearty sound and a tart, acidic tone similar to/inspired by that of McLean, but his style of spinning-out elegance, yet pointed improvisations, is closer to that of Art Pepper (Ah, imagine if McLean and Pepper had recorded together...but I digress). Also, DiRubbo has a touch of the romantic McLean was a lot of (great) things, but I don t think he ll go down in history as one of thegGreat romantics of the sax just listen to the way he caresses the melody (occasionally adding just a touch of joyful swagger) on the too-short Highbridge Lullaby. (Why d it fade-out so soon?) DiR can get edgy with ease (without going all histrionic), such as on the controlled burn of Nightfall. Another thing making Repercussion stand out from hundreds of other assorted hard/post bop releases is the absence of piano. Instead, Steve Nelson plays vibes with a slightly brittle, more-dense, less-buoyant tone, with faint echoes of Milt Jackson and Blue Note--era Bobby Hutcherson. The rhythm team of Dwayne Burno and the late Tony Reedus is tight, forceful (without being overbearing) and on-the-money throughout. Further, DiRubbo & company doesn t trot out the same old overdone standards they could've played in their sleep this set of nine tunes contains seven memorable DiR originals. While not a masterpiece, Repercussion is one darkly dazzling gem of an album. --JazzReview.com