By Brian Morton | Published May 2020
Now and then, the circumstances around a recording are almost as interesting as the content. Darius Brubeck’s 2018 tour of Poland took place during the centenary of the country’s restored independence, but also, on the anniversary of his father Dave’s pioneering 1958 tour, the first by a Western group behind the Iron Curtain. Live In Poland feels like an extended dziekuje—or “thank you,” and the title of the folksy sixth track—to the Polish people in return. The warmth of reception is evident, most obviously in the reaction to “Take Five,” but also in the palpable chemistry between the group and the crowd at the Blue Note in Poznań. Brubeck begins “Earthrise” with huge, sonorous rolls on the keyboard, before the swinging main theme announces itself. Does Dave O’Higgins sound remotely like Paul Desmond? Of course not; there’s too much Coltrane in his makeup, but he has the ability to make the tenor sound light and supple. The sheer delight of “Matt The Cat” and Hugh Masekela’s “Nomali” rescue the set from any possible solemnity. But Darius Brubeck originals are the meat of the album, his “Sea Of Troubles” a glorious Hamlet-like soliloquy with profound blue interventions from the group.
Live In Poland: Earthrise; In Your Own Sweet Way; Matt The Cat; Nomali; Sea Of Troubles; Dziekuje; Take Five.
Personnel: Darius Brubeck, piano; Dave O’Higgins, tenor saxophone; Matt Ridley, bass; Wesley Gibbens, drums.