The piano trio reinvigorated

In the old days you could spend a few hours going through an entire record store top to bottom, and walk away with a handful of things that you’d NEVER heard of, but which looked very promising for one reason or another.

That’s how I found the Benny Lackner Trio.

I’m sure I’m showing my age. I’d been doing this kind of thing since at least 1978, all over the world, finding little recorded gems in the oddest of places. And, of course, nobody says RECORD store any more…

But there I was, exploring, discovering, at the (now defunct) CD Warehouse in the Emporium in Bangkok. For some reason they were the local distributor for the Nagel Heyer label, so over time I picked up a few of their releases, like Benny Lackner Trio’s Not The Same and Sign Of The Times. Riveting stuff.

Fast forward another four years. An email from Benny, an interest in touring in Southeast Asia, and, remarkably, some support for travel from the Berlin Senate Cultural Affairs Department. 160 emails later, and the tour is ready to go!

Benny Lackner Trio

Born in Berlin, Benny Lackner moved to California at the age of thirteen. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts under the direction of Charlie Haden and David Roitstein. From 1997 to 1998 he studied privately with his mentor, Brad Mehldau.

The Benny Lackner Trio is one of a handful of recent groups who are busy reinventing and reinvigorating the piano trio. Influenced by the work of Keith Jarrett, Ahmad Jamal, and Bill Evans, they’ve nonetheless put their own distinct personality into their output, and drawn comparisons to groups like The Bad Plus and E.S.T., and artists like Jason Moran and, of course, Brad Mehldau. The sound is acoustic piano, bass, and drums, spiced with occasional electronic ornamentation. One minute they may be interpreting a Mingus, Monk or Gershwin tune, the next putting a jazz spin on Hendrix, Prince, or Bjork, before delivering some incredible original tunes.

The 2006 recording probably brought Benny the most press coverage of his fledgling career. AllAboutJazz said “Lackner can be tagged a young-lion as of this writing… Sign Of The Times proves itself a wonderfully realized work of art, every tune a highlight, and with it Lackner steps into the ranks of fully developed jazz artists.” JazzTimes said “Sign Of The Times is piano trio music not for the faint of heart… (this trio’s) raw creative energy and brute force is directed by Lackner’s musical sophistication and imposing technical facility.”

From June 14 to June 22, the Benny Lackner Trio will perform around Southeast Asia, starting with workshops and a concert in Bangkok, Thailand. Further shows will be held in Phnom Penh, Kota Kinabalu, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hong Kong… check our event page for more details!

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