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Benny Lackner Trio: Siskiyou

Dan McClenaghan By

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The photo on the main page of Benny Lackner's website shows the pianist with one hand on an acoustic piano, the other plying the keys of a laptop computer. That's where his muse has taken him-into a very contemporary electro/acoustic piano trio mix with drummer Matthieu Chazarec and bassist Jerome Regard.

Siskiyou is Lackner's  fifth trio outing, and his second with this particular line-up, after 2012's Cachuma  (BMH Productions). It is his best and most focused outing. The trio has gelled into a tight and beautifully synchronized unit, tinted with rock stylings and drum & bass beats. The leader's compositions haves a distinctive melodic containment—notes don't fly all over the place, but rather stay channeled within a relatively narrow range, making, with his trio mates, a relentless, alluring, almost machine-like rhythms.

Lackner has perfected the mix of electric and acoustic. Using devices like the Musser Ampli-Celesta, Wurlitzer, Solina String Synth and Nord Lead alongside the piano, he crafts multi-toned soundscapes. Where Cachuma had more of a Bill Evans vibe, Siskiyou leans in the direction of Nik Bartsch's Ronin, on a more inward, reflective, and overtly beautiful style in the telling of its tales.

Seven of the disc's tunes are Lackner originals, along with David Bowie's "Cygnet Committee," featuring delicate piano notes over a trudging rhythm, and the belatedly famous folk singer Rodriguez's "Sugerman," a lovely, lilting tune, given a jolt of energy by Chazarenc's typewriter-like rhythm. The title tune, "Siskiyou," after a Northern California, Mt. Shasta area lake (Cachuma is a lake in Santa Barbara County California) has the piano sparkling over a heavy drum & bass with, from the depths, some dark-toned electronics sweetened with the electro strings. The trio closes with what sounds like a crowd-pleaser, "Name Dropper," beginning with a solid dance beat that evolves into a raging heavy metal groove, throwing that "containment thing" out the studio door.

Nice!

Track Listing: The 4th Member; Cygnet Committee; Palau; Sugarman; The Garden; Heart Racer; Song For Lucia; Siskiyou; Name Dropper.

Personnel: Benny Lackner: piano, Musser Ampli-Celesta, Wurlitzer, Nord Lead, Solina String Ensemble (synth); Jerome Regard: electric bass, acoustic bass; Matthieu Chazarenc: drums.

Title: Siskiyou | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Unit Records

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