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Mike DiRubbo: From the Inside Out

Mike DiRubbo is a powerful young altoist currently making a name for himself in New York.

Hailing from New Haven, the now 28-year-old DiRubbo is a graduate of Jackie McLean’s jazz program at Hartford’s Hartt School of Music. It’s not surprising, then, that one hears echoes of McLean in DiRubbo’s robust sound and boppish attack. Bird, especially in the pell-mell flight through “Bebop,” is another touchstone. But what makes DiRubbo unique is his fascination with tenorists Gordon, Rollins and Coltrane, a collective influence manifested in his penchant for the alto’s swarthy bottom register.

In this 1994 date, DiRubbo flies in the good company of trombonist Steve Davis, pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Nat Reeves, and drummer Carl Allen. From the steamrolling title track to the brisk waltz-time reframing of “Over the Rainbow,” everything, including ballads, grooves with a bluesy bop-based edge. Another attraction is the ear-grabbing alto-trombone front line; so, too, the programming which includes a freshened look at Sahib Shihab’s “Rue de la Harpe” and compelling originals like the leader’s “Role Reversal” and Davis’ “The Search Within.”

Originally Published