Mike DiRubbo

Mike DiRubbo

Instrument: Saxophone, alto | Location: New York City

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.
—Ted Panken

Updated: September 19, 2019

Born: July 25, 1970

Connecticut-born, New York-based alto saxophonist/bandleader/composer/educator Mike DiRubbo was born on July 25th, 1970. His first instrument was the clarinet, which he started playing in the fourth grade. He switched to alto saxophone at the age of twelve. Largely self-taught, his interest in jazz was sparked when he performed with the Dwike Mitchell/Willie Ruff duo in high school. After graduating high school, DiRubbo enrolled in the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz of the Hartt School, University of Hartford, where legendary jazz alto saxophonist Jackie McLean – who played with Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers – personally instructed DiRubbo, who also studied with pianist Hotep Galeta, bassists Nat Reeves and Rick Rozie and classical saxophonist Ken Radnofsky. DiRubbo graduated from college in 1992 with a Bachelor of Music degree, stayed in his home state for a few years, gigging with fellow Hartt School alumnus, trombonist Steve Davis, and later moved to New York City in 1997.

In New York, DiRubbo worked with a wide variety of artists including Eric Alexander, Joe Farnsworth, David Hazeltine, Brian Lynch, Michael Weiss, John Swana, Ronnie Matthews, Essiet Essiet and Harold Mabern. DiRubbo appears as a sideman on Steve Davis’ eight recordings: The Jaunt; Crossfire; Vibe Up!; Systems Blue; Outlook; Live at Smalls, Images and Gettin’ It Done. His other recorded sideman work includes dates with Mario Pavone, Jim Rotondi, Lauren Sevian, Andrew Adair, Dezron Douglas, Brian Charette and Hiromi Kasuga, and can be heard on the Fresh Sounds, Criss Cross, Double Time Jazz, Steeplechase and Knitting Factory labels.

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”[DiRubbo’s] solos seem to leap out of the speakers, with an intensity, at times, that borders on ferocious.” - Richard B. Kamens, Step Tempest

“The Grim Reaper’s pop was one bad dude and DiRubbo shows he can lead a New York sax trio and swing a sax like Chronos could swing a scythe.” - Chris Spector, The Midwest Record

“Mike DiRubbo plays with fire and intelligence, and his music dances with life.” Francis Davis, author of “Like Young”

“…a powerful, not-to-be-missed performer.” David A. Orthmann, allaboutjazz.com

“…certainly one of the most exciting young alto saxophonists to emerge in quite some time.” Chris Hovan, Jazz&Blues Report

“There is something inexplicably unique about his tunes

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Primary Instrument

Saxophone, alto


New York City

Willing to teach

Beginner to advanced

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Mike DiRubbo Albums