Stay Calm – Adam Baruch
This is the second album by Polish ensemble The Beat Freaks comprising of guitarist Michal Starkiewicz, saxophonist Tomasz Licak, bassist Pawel Grzesiuk and drummer Radek Wosko. The album presents thirteen original compositions, eight of which were composed by Starkiewicz, two by Licak, one by Wosko and two were co-composed by all four members of the quartet. The album was recorded at the excellent Monochrom Studio and engineered by Ignacy Gruszecki.
The quartet’s debut album recorded three years earlier (2016) left me with mixed feelings and I am happy to say that this one is a significant improvement, especially as far as the compositions are concerned, as well as the guitar playing, which works this time without a hitch. Also the superb recording quality improves the overall coherence of the music, with less harshness and excellent separation, making every little nuance audible.
The music is all melody based, Fusion oriented contemporary Jazz and offers some excellent guitar / saxophone interplay supported by a steady and solid rhythm section. Licak is the primary soloist, but Starkiewicz follows suit time after time with a nicely balanced guitar tone, which manages to shake off most of its Fusion mannerisms that prevailed earlier on, and offers heartfelt guitar soli. Their unisono parts, which then develop into a saxophone / guitar conversations is the central feature of this album.
Overall this is an album which can be enjoyed by a wide Jazz / Fusion audience, especially guitar enthusiasts, who should be able find many interesting licks here. Definitely worth investigation!