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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Benny Lackner Trio: Cachuma

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Pianist Benny Lackner can do whatever he wants, and says as much with “I Can Do Whatever I Want," the opener on his forward-leaning Cachuma. This piano trio outing suggests he wants to nudge the trio setting into a modern groove while giving voice to his own artistic vision.Modernization of the tried and true piano trio format is an ongoing process. e.s.t., led by the late Swedish pianist Esbjörn Svensson, incorporated electronics with great success, while John Medeski continues to employ a wide range of electric keyboards with Medeski Martin & Wood. Sam Yahel-- better known earlier in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Benny Lackner Trio: Pilgrim

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The rock-ish but very adult Pilgrim is a cautionary example of why detail is important in jazz. On a cursory listen, the Benny Lackner Trio sounds like a Bad Plus imitator: the rock influence is heavy, pianist Lackner shares Ethan Iverson's harmonic trajectory and heavy touch, and drummer Robert Perkins' sound is superficially like Dave King's bash-and-crash. What's more, the fifth track is titled “Brad Plus," a dead giveaway if ever there was one. That first impression is illusory. Deeper exploration reveals that Pilgrim, a contemplative project in many moods, is also quietly visionary.

The sensitivity with which the group ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Benny Lackner Trio: Pilgrim

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The Benny Lackner Trio calls itself a “collective," with each member “interjecting equally toward the construction of the material." This sef-description was certainly true of the group's previous outing, Sign of the Times (Nagel Heyer, 2006). It's an even more accurate characterization of the group's approach on Pilgrim.The “collective" is a piano trio, with some subtle electronics added--Wurlitzer and Nord lead 2--along with a dash of electro-percussion. When you talk piano trio and equality of each member's input, you start with Bill Evans and run through Keith Jarrett and on to Brad Mehldau. Lackner and company definitely fit ...

INTERVIEWS

Benny Lackner: Evolving the Piano Trio Tradition

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At 29, pianist Benny Lackner has just released Sign of the Times, his second CD for the prestigious Nagel Heyer label, touring Europe and paving way for his dream--playing at the Village Vanguard in NYC and the main jazz festivals around the world.

I caught up with him at the Hot Club de Portugal, in Lisbon, one of the oldest jazz clubs in the world, whose stage has hosted musicians from Bill Coleman and Dexter Gordon to Mark Turner and Nicholas Payton. Lackner and his trio, with bassist Derek Nievergelt and drummer John B. Arnold, left quite an impression amongst ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Benny Lackner Trio: Sign of the Times

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New York-based pianist Benny Lackner came to my attention with the innovative jazz/pop outing Migratory (HeadFullaBrains, 2002) by Maroon, the group he co-leads with vocalist Hillary Maroon. That disc didn't make the splash it deserved, but in the music we loosely define as jazz, big splashes are fairly rare.Fast forward a few years--past another even more innovative Maroon outing, Who the Sky Betrays (HeadFullaBrains, 2003), and two earlier Lackner trios discs, and we find that Benny Lackner has tuned his piano trio vision into a sharp focus on Sign of the Times. Lackner can be tagged ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Benny Lackner Trio: Not the Same

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Pianist Benny Lackner's conception of the jazz trio places his music somewhere between the Bad Plus and Matthew Shipp's nu bop, with a smattering of Brad Mehldau in the crevices. His entirely original but vaguely familiar compositions serve as rest stops that space apart his trio's flashy, attention-grabbing covers. He and his band work wonders with “Moanin' : Derek Nievergelt's tricked-out bass line and Lackner's electronica splats and keyboard smears should serve as inspiration for an entirely new approach to the Mingus songbook. Hendrix's “If Six Was Nine grabs you by the belt buckle before Lackner mixes ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Benny Lackner Trio: Not the Same

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Pianist Benny Lackner has made some waves in the past couple of years for his work in the genre-bending pop/jazz group Maroon, but it is with Not the Same that he finally gets the chance to step out and prove his mettle in the piano trio format. The piano trio has received some invigorating new blood in recent years with the fresh approaches of groups including the Bad Plus and E.S.T., and, to be certain, Lackner's vision fits within that space, leaning more to the melodious side that E.S.T. mines so successfully. But while there are certainly parallels to be ...



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