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Mike DiRubbo — Alto Saxophone

Mike DiRubbo
Photo by Mary Jane Photography

“Something about the sound Mike DiRubbo elicits from the alto saxophone –deep, dark, immense, with a machete edge that denotes a ready-for-anything urban sensibility – immediately grabs the ear. It’s a sound familiar to the cream of New York’s hardcore jazz community since the mid-‘90’s” writes Ted Panken.

Born on July 25, 1970 in New Haven, Connecticut, DiRubbo began his musical life as a junior high school clarinetist, and switched to alto saxophone at 12. A primarily self-taught saxophonist, he developed into a talented instrumentalist drawn inexorably to the notion of improvising. At a high school band concert, Mike had the opportunity to perform with the Dwike Mitchell – Willie Ruff duo, an experience that would add to his desire to be a professional musician and also spark his interest in jazz music.

In the fall of 1988 DiRubbo entered the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz of the Hartt School, University of Hartford, where he studied the tradition and history of African-American music from master saxophonist Jackie McLean, pianists Hotep Galeta and Peter Woodard, bassists Nat Reeves and Rick Rozie and classical saxophone with Ken Radnofsky.

DiRubbo has gone on to perform regularly as both a leader and a sideman in and around New York City and abroad in Italy, France and Israel. Festivals he has performed at include the Litchfield Jazz Festival, the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival, the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, and the JVC Jazz Festival in NYC and the Jazz, Blues and Videotape festival in Tel Aviv. Some of the musicians he has performed and recorded with are: Cecil Payne, Eddie Henderson, Harold Mabern, Ronnie Matthews, John Hicks, Steve Davis, Tony Reedus, Mike LeDonne, Dwayne Burno, David Hazeltine, Steve Nelson, Mario Pavone, Carl Allen, Michael Weiss, Peter Washington, Nat Reeves, Jim Rotondi, Joe Farnsworth, Eric Alexander, Anthony Wonsey, Brian Lynch, Peter Bernstein, Joe Magnarelli, Essiet Essiet, Matt Wilson, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and George Wein.

Mike has five CDs as a leader: From the Inside Out (Sharp Nine Records 1999); Keep Steppin’ (Criss Cross Jazz 2001); Human Spirit (Criss Cross Jazz 2003); New York Accent (Cellar Live 2007) and his latest: Repercussion (Posi-Tone Records 2009). He has also been featured on five of trombonist Steve Davis’ recordings: The Jaunt; Crossfire; Vibe Up!; Systems Blue and Outlook. Mike can also be heard as a sideman on the Fresh Sounds, Criss Cross, Double Time Jazz and Knitting Factory labels. DiRubbo has been featured in articles, reviews, and interviews in magazines such as Saxophone Journal, Hothouse, Jazz Times, Downbeat, Jazz Journal, Cadence, Swing Journal, Jazz Folio, JazzWise, All Music Guide and All About Jazz.

Continuing the circle of knowledge, DiRubbo has been a resident artist at the Litchfield Jazz Camp since it’s inauguration in 1996. Most recently he has been a guest instructor at SUNY Purchase in NY, at William Patterson University’s jazz program, at New York University, at the Jackie McLean Institute and is a saxophone tutor at the New School in NYC. He has also conducted master-classes at Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio, Loyola University in New Orleans, and at the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the University of Hartford. Mike has also participated in the Jazz in the Classroom (founded by the late Billy Higgins) series in up-state New York and has privately instructed at Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY.

Mike endorses Virtuoso saxophones by RS Berkeley and Bari Woowind Supplies mouthpieces.

Mike DiRubbo's website