By Ed Enright | Published August 2020
Benny Rubin Jr.’s robust voice on tenor saxophone establishes itself from the very first notes of the plaintive wail that opens “Know,” the leadoff track from the Detroit-bred, New York-based bandleader’s second album.
With Know Say Or See, Rubin follows up his well-received 2017 debut, What’s Next, with a quartet recording featuring himself on tenor and alto saxophones, pianist Lex Korten, bassist Adam Olszewski and drummer JK Kim in a fairly diverse program of six Rubin originals and two standards. The group sounds strong and confident in a bunch of different jazz settings, from slow blues (“Know”) and hard-bop (Horace Silver’s “Kiss Me Right”) to avant-garde (“Say”) and epic/spiritual (“Down They Go,” “Or See”).
There’s conviction to spare in Rubin’s playing. His sound is raw and unpolished, with a low-end resonance that feels as if it emanates straight from the gut. Rubin is just getting started with what looks to be a promising career, and he’s clearly come a long way since his studies at the Detroit School of the Arts, his performance with the Detroit Jazz Festival Youth All-Stars in 2016 and his appearance on the 2018 Geri Allen tribute CD Lifetime with other young Detroit-area players. On Know Say Or See, he delivers fully developed ideas with the intensity and sensitivity of a maturing man on a mission.