Friday, January 21, 2011

Mike DiRubbo: Chronos

Mike DiRubbo (sax; b. 1970)
Chronos (PosiTone Records, 2011)
Brian Charette (organ)
Rudy Royston (drums)

It's funny, I don't own a single Mike DiRubbo album, which now sounds like a crime. But I actually own almost ever album his performed on as a sideman. Weird. I checked before I started writing this entry and its true!

DiRubbo is one of those rare breeds in the new crop of straight-ahead musicians. His style is very reminiscent of his influences, Coltrane, Parker and his mentor/teacher Jackie McLean. But he has developed his own vision and approach which has made him an in-demand sideman since his debut in 1999. He has worked with a plethora of his contemporaries and legends including Steve Davis, Eric Alexander, Peter Washington, Harold Mabern, Bruce Barth and of course Jackie McLean.

DiRubbo's latest, Chronos (PosiTone) is a sheer delight. It is a change in direction compared to the rest of his catalog. Mainly in set up. This outing is a trio lineup with the stellar Rudy Royston on drums and Brian Charette on organ.

Organ sessions can be a tricky affair. The organ while emotional and funky can sometimes overwhelm the session. On Chronos it is a major compliment. This sounds like a group that has been together for years. Chronos is a face paced session with tracks like "Rituals" and "Minor Progress" moving with rich vibrant tones but also keep the listener engrossed with the individual activities of each performer.

Charette's playing is really outstanding. On "Nouveau" the trio are in complete ballad mode. It helps temper the more upbeat rhythm of the opening tracks and displays the diversity of DiRubbo's talent. "Eight For Elvin" is DiRubbo's tribute to legendary John Coltrane drummer Elvin Jones. It's a moment where history meets influence and works perfectly. Royston is fantastic and infectious. Charette seems calm and relaxed. And DiRubbo intermingles with the two superbly and romantically.

It would have been interesting to hear Coltrane mixing it up with Jimmy Smith or John Patton. Maybe the closet comparison would be Jimmy Smith's work with Lou Donaldson or the emotional work Jackie Mac did with Mal Waldron (piano).

Chronos is definitely a side step for DiRubbo but its a beautiful side step that I think every jazz fan will dig. It's emotional. It's funky. It's crafty. And most of all it's got a vision and pace that is worth repeated listens. I really think you're all going to dig it.

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