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Benny Lackner Trio: Drake

Dan McClenaghan By

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Pianist Benny Lackner was born in Germany, but moved to the United States at thirteen years of age. He spent his formative years in California, and received his BFA from the California Institute of the Arts. Studies with pianist Brad Mehldau followed. Then, at thirty years of age, Lackner returned to Berlin from his adopted New York base. From Germany, the albums—with a superb trio—started coming. Drake is the Benny Lackner Trio's sixth offering.

Stylistically, Lackner doesn't sound like Mehldau. But in terms of his conceptual outlook—his ability to put together a recording with a focus of vision and a cohesive mood—he follows his mentor's lead.

The Lackner Trio sound is steeped in the tranquil and contemplative. Melodies unfold with patience, and "effects"—from Lackner and bassist Jérôme Regard—tint the sound with a sheen of modernity, sometimes with understated twitches or rustlings, at others with a painting of translucently orchestral backdrops, all underlain by gently insistent rhythms. Lackner's tune "Rise To the Occasion" showcases the group's electro-acoustic approach, employing field recordings, drum loops and deft three-way interplay and an irresistible, danceable momentum. "Good Stuff," a Lackner composition inspired by a quote from the movie The Wedding Crashers (Tapestry Films, 2005), begins with a lovely, time-stands-still soundscape before shifting into an ominous groove.

The title tune, another Lackner composition—he wrote or co-wrote everything here except for "Tears," a tune from the trio's drummer Matthieu Chazarenc's pen—sounds like a lonely, aimless stroll in an autumn twilight; and "Yorke" pulses with electronic rhythms inside an electro "with strings" wash.

Drake ends with Lackner's "Choral," a pensive, slightly spooky, lost-in-the-wee-hours sound, a fitting wrap up to this beautiful and mostly ruminative affair.

Track Listing: I Told You So; Rise To The Occasion; Here To Stay; Decompression; Tears; Good Stuff; It's Gonna Happen; Entwurzelt; Drake; Yorke; Choral.

Personnel: Benny Lackner: piano, effects, Fender Rhodes; Jerome Regard: bass,; effects; Matthieu Chazarenc: drums.

Title: Drake | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Ozella Music

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