I like to discover new things, get something unexpected. Such nice surprises were served from the very beginning by the album „Leon“ by The Beat Freaks. A new band? Basically yes. But when we look at the musicians, we will have the first surprise. Tomasz Licak and Radek Wośko are known and respected by the jazz fans, not only in Poland. Michał Starkiewicz and Paweł Grzesiuk are also easy to associate – even from concert performances with top-notch artists, though not always from the jazz world. The Beat Freaks are not an anonymous band. Where did the “Leon” come from? The album was supposed to be a tribute and an attempt to save the work of the mythical bard of the times of industrialization – Leon Kokakiewicz. An innovator fascinated by the machines. A character that we do not read about in the vast resources of the internet, for example, because no such person ever existed.
The nine catchy compositions by the band feature the leading role of saxophone and clarinet played by Tomasz Licak, aided by solo guitarist Michał Starkiewicz – the initiator of the project. Bass and drums do not put themselves in the first line, but they can mark their presence. Even in the song “Solaris”, perfectly led by Radek Wośko with a brilliant solo and a fantastic change of rhythm around the middle of the song. Or in the more dancing “Pod Nóżkę” with catchy, swinging bass under the brilliant discussion of guitar and saxophone. The calm ballad “Bright Eyes” and “Ludowo”, which “folk” inspiration is not necessarily in the direction of our native countryside, are also attracting attention.
The album was surprisingly light – surprisingly, because the Danish experience of half of the band would have suggested a rather improvised repertoire. But it is otherwise imaginative and played with a large class. Definitely encouraging to reach out to jazz. I hope The Beat Freaks will find yet another traces of Leon Kokakiewicz’s actions and share them with the world.