Monday, May 26, 2014

Mike DiRubbo: Threshold - DownBeat

Mike DiRubbo
*** 1/2

It is unclear what threshold alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo and his band are crossing over for this recording.  It's a meaty, well-executed acoustic performance of driving post-bop that recalls the finest of '60s tenomen like Wayne Shorter and Hank Mobley.  It is technically spot-on and grooving but it does not feel as though the titular threshold leads to the future.  Instead the band embraces a high-energy, old-school aesthetic.  DiRubbo has a strong, seductive tone on his alto.  In lieu of the more shrill corners of the instrument, he explores its dense, romantic capabilities. He rifles off breathless lines on Charlie Parker's "Bloomdido," serving up a brisk display of saxophone chops to close the album (otherwise, the songs are all self-penned). The disc opens with DiRubbo bouncing alongside confident trumpeter Josh Evans.  Drummer Rudy Royston establishes a crackling swing groove that never ebbs throughout the disc.  The spacious melody of "Curvas Perigosas" begs for a drum solo and Royston delivers a wonderfully bombastic display. Brian Charette steps away from his usual post at the organ bench for piano duties and offers up an impressive display of inventiveness and technique over Royston and bassist Ugonna Okegwo's pinpoint support. "Salter of the Earth" borrows too closely from Coltrane's "Naima," with its long-toned melody and hushed reverence, but the subdued tempo is a welcome break. All five members of the group are locked into their comfort zones here, but a few well-placed curveballs could have gone a long way.

Mike DiRubbo @ DownBeat

No comments: