Benny Lackner Trio:
Benny Lackner piano and keys
Matthieu Chazarenc - drums
Jerome Regard - bass
Siskiyou is a county in California. It’s also the title for the new album from Benny Lackner Trio. I recently saw the trio live during their Kuala Lumpur leg of their Asian tour (for the tour, Paul Kleber was on bass). Listening to the album, I felt transported into a world of sound with dreamy atmospheres in Palau (track 3) and intense drive coupled with a spacious approach to soloing in Heartracer (track 6). Discovering the Mehldau connection (Lackner was a student of Mehldau), it made sense why I felt a similar sensibility throughout the album. The two covers in the album, Cygnet Committee (David Bowie) and Sugar Man (Rodriguez) are tastefully played with a sparse groove in the Bowie tune and a counterpoint with attitude approach in the Rodriguez cover.
In Song For Lucia, a calm spoken word quality to the solo gives a beautiful flow to the solo that Lackner takes. A more electronic energy come in on the title track Siskiyou, with the drums and synth bass sound in the foreground against the piano that stays more in the background of the mix until halfway in the tune. It’s almost as if there is a battle between the acoustic and the electric, the expected and the eclectic. Towards the end, the bass and the drums remain and goes to fade. Closing the album, Name Dropper echoes a groove reminisce of The Bad Plus meets Charlie Hunter in a elegant ballroom in New York. The dissonance really kicks in around 2:27 when a distorted solo crashes into this piano trio setting opening the floodgates for textural cacophony.
My favorite piece in the entire album is Heartracer. On repeat, the song has been stuck in my mind since I saw them live. I might cover this piece or write something inspired by it. There’s such a haunting beauty to it. For fans of Brad Mehldau, The Bad Plus and Esbjörn Svensson Trio, if you haven’t checked out Benny Lackner Trio, this is a good place to start.
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