POLIN, the museum of the History of Polish Jews, was constructed on the site of the old Warsaw Ghetto from 2007-2012, and its main exhibition opened in October 2014. At that time, the curators invited Stańko to write and perform a suite of music for the opening, which he did (see video below), recording it in the same month. Retaining only pianist David Virelles from the NY Quartet, Stańko assembled another band of Americans with bassist Dezron Douglas, drummer Kush Abadey, and 'Trane Jr on sax. The museum released the album themselves shortly afterwards, without a regular record label.
And for that, it's an album that sounds superb - come to it blind and you could conceivably be listening to a regular ECM production. It's an inspired band that Stańko's assembled here, with Virelles' lightness of touch carrying over perfectly from Wisława and the new rhythm section laying down a more swinging foundation right from opener Gela. Ravi Coltrane is a great foil to Stańko here - it's nice to just hear the trumpeter play with another horn, after so many years of (admittedly gorgeous) quartet releases.
When the tempo picks up, as on Yankiel's Lid and the title track, Coltrane really starts to cook on his solos, with Stańko picking up the energy and sounding in top form himself. But don't miss the loveliest ballad on this brief set, which is saved for the end. The Street Of Crocodiles has one of those classic little understated Stańko melodies, and was also beautifully recast on his return to ECM last year (on December Avenue, where Yankiel's Lid was also re-recorded with a freshly rejigged NY Quartet). Sure, ECM Stańko is great, but don't miss out on Polin.
Opening night concert at POLIN, Oct. 2014 - video should start at 1h3m for Stańko's set
mega / zippy