Benjamin Lackner

Trio

BENJAMIN LACKNER    piano

JERÔME REGARD   bass

MATTHIEU CHAZARENC   drums

Quartet

BENJAMIN LACKNER    piano
MATHIAS EICK / ODED TZUR   trumpet / sax

JERÔME REGARD   bass

MANU KATCHÉ / MATTHIEU CHAZARENC  drums

L1000138_web

Quintet

BENJAMIN LACKNER    piano

LINDA MAY HAN OH   bass

MARK TURNER / MACIEJ OBARA  sax

MATTHIAS EICK   trumpet

MATTHIEU CHAZARENC   drums

“Benny Lackner has a distinctive compositional voice that sounds lucid and fresh. I´m honored that I´ve been part of his musical journey.”

Brad Mehldau

On Tour – available dates

Quartet: November 8 to 21, 2024
Quintet: January 10 to 26, 2025 (album release tour)

Quartet

Why is music still being made and released on albums at all? Why is it still possible, even after centuries, to express things that have never been said before with the same, extremely manageable stock of notes? Because each of these melodies, concepts or constellations would be absolutely new? Or is it perhaps rather because a few select musical personalities, with almost magical foresight, hit the exact note that synchronizes with a general need at the time of release and expresses an emotional state or hope that could only be captured very inaccurately with words.

One such musician is the Berlin-based sound philosopher Benjamin Lackner, who with his snapshot of infinity “Last Decade” has created a counterpoint to the tempo addiction that forces more and more information on us in ever shorter intervals. Was that his intention? Hardly. Is it a coincidence? Much less. Disregarding any hierarchy of sounds and attaching importance to every single note is simply the way, the holistic profundity and seriousness, indeed the unshakeable reliability with which the pianist realizes his music.

Listening to Lackner playing with the Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick and the two Frenchmen Jérôme Regard on bass and Manu Katché on drums brings back memories. Memories of the sound of a time that may seem better in retrospect. This impression is deceptive, because even if Lackner neither wants to nor can free himself from his memories, his impulse to play this music is no different from that of the protagonists from the past. “Last Decade” is a window into the present, in which the reminiscences of memory are certainly audible and tangible. Without copying anyone, Lackner and the members of his band connect to a lost aesthetic and transport their idea of an imaginary past confidently into the future. What sometimes sounds like an homage is ultimately a self-confident determination of their position.

What distinguishes Benjamin Lackner from many of his role models is his avoidance of grand gestures. The poetic casualness with which he plays his fantastically beautiful melodies is reminiscent of the flight of a butterfly, whose trajectory draws the most enchanting ornaments in the air without them being immediately tangible. With Lackner, the small rests in the large and the large in the small. The connecting element between the two principles is the unpretentious moment in which it happens.

The recordings for “Last Decade” were made in September 2021, when times were already complicated enough, but nobody would have guessed at the time what point we would have reached socially, globally and individually at the time of its release. With almost prophetic foresight, Benjamin Lackner created music over a year ago that covers the hardships and fears of the present like a healing film.

He opens doors and turns the dualism of musician and listener on its head, because he almost gives the impression that it is he who is listening for us into the almost irresolvable complexity of our worries and hopes. These songs were not made for the sake of music, but to be heard, no, to be felt and lived. “I had to learn to stay with myself despite all the political and social turbulence and to create the warmth that I give on this album from within myself,” states Benjamin Lackner. With “Last Decade”, he has not only overcome this hurdle with flying colors, he has also gifted the world with a piece of music that, if every citizen of the world in East and West, rich and poor, old and young, were to listen to it once a day, would open the gates to a better future.

Wolf Kampmann

It is a masterpiece that, in the almost hypnotic melodic maelstrom of eight original Lackner compositions (and an impromptu by his bassist), dispenses with all soloistic “artistry” and spectacular artistry in favor of a highly integrated sound and intimate exchange of ideas. To a certain extent, the four sing the songs, at least primarily, with all their implied, occasionally flashing soloistic souplesse. This is a modest and refined process, but one whose sophistication only becomes apparent to us in the aftermath, so to speak.

WELTWOCHE

The music unfolds naturally on every single track. The sound of the group, which consists almost entirely of Lackner originals, is so authentic that I believe it will stand the test of time and hopefully encourage further recordings as a quartet in the future. The album is blessed with nine very strong tracks, of which I would like to mention just one in particular – the incredible “Hung Up On That Ghost”. Inspiring material indeed.

UK VIBE

For a new band, there’s a new concept and a new sound. Lackner embraces this and has created a focused yet spacious quartet sound that comes across with an easy grace and lyricism that is very appealing. In addition, the group also loves a good groove, and this too can be heard and felt when the four musicians enjoy each other’s playing.

JAZZVIEWS

Let’s hear someone say there is no ECM sound. Benjamin Lackner may be a debutant on ECM, but with “Last Decade” he captures the essence that has characterized this label for over 50 years. In this sense, the record could well be called “Last Half Century” ….This tangible transience of an intangible memory amounts to a stirring intimacy. “Last Decade” reveals a longing that hasn’t been poured into music with such conviction for a very long time.

JAZZTHING

The best thing about the album is the strength of the originals, most of these written by Lackner himself. Producer Manfred Eicher has drawn something special out of the pianist and all concerned on the record for a glistening, life affirming creation.

MARLBANK

But the end product, which is purely acoustic this time, works great….some pieces are solemn and a little melancholy, all of them lyrical and thoughtful, with an almost philosophical calm and serenity.

JAZZPODIUM

Speaking of Last Decade, many jazz musicians aspire to find a home at ECM, but few are called. Lackner, who has a handful of other albums on smaller labels, got the fateful call from Eicher a few years ago. After various delays, the recording sessions went down in September 2021 at Studios La Buissonne in Pernes-les-Fontaines, France. Eicher was very much in the house and in producer mode, and the resulting album benefits from the sonic radiance and sense of space and being in the moment — hallmark qualities for which ECM is renowned.From the opening probing piano-trumpet melody of “Where Do We Go From Here?” to the final suspended chord of the album-closer “My People,” Lackner shows a sensitive touch and an admirable restraint in his playing. He stretches out into flashes of serpentine fire at the right, ripe moments of a solo, as he does on the pensive 6/8 title track, “Last Decade.” He also lends Eick ample expressive space on the record; the pair seem to have a palpable empathetic connection, which one hopes will continue in the future.

THE INDEPENDENT

…with unobtrusive ensemble playing, in which the ego of the individual is not brought to the fore, but rather the common, open, with the courage to leave gaps and space for the partners. In the course of the pieces, double bass and piano, trumpet and piano, double bass and percussion and very often all four instruments nestle together. Here, a solo is not a showpiece for the soloist, but a performance integrated into the overall event, as if everything revolved around a decade of equality and attentive interaction.

RONDO

stern_gr

Quintet

His latest quartet album Last Decade (ECM) is a window into the present, in which the reminiscences of memory are certainly audible and tangible. Without copying anyone, the pianist and the members of his band connect to a lost aesthetic and transport their idea of an imaginary past confidently into the future. What sometimes sounds like an homage is ultimately a self-confident determination of where they stand.Benjamin Lackner’s ECM debut in 2022 was the kind of success one could only wish for: never-ending praise from the press and sold-out concerts almost everywhere as part of a 17-date Europe-wide release tour.

In March 2024, the musicians met in the ECM studio for the next album. And Benjamin Lackner was able to win over the world-class saxophonist Mark Turner and the multi-award-winning bassist Linda Oh for this, and you can hear what it sounds like live on the album release tour at the latest: January 10-26, 2025

Benjamin Lackner may be a debutant on ECM, but with “Last Decade” he captures the essence that has characterized this label for over 50 years. (…) This tangible transience of an intangible memory amounts to a stirring intimacy. “Last Decade” lays bare a longing that has not been poured into music with such conviction for a very long time.

JAZZTHING

…with unobtrusive ensemble playing, in which the ego of the individual is not brought to the fore, but rather the common, open, with the courage to leave gaps and space for the partners. In the course of the pieces, double bass and piano, trumpet and piano, double bass and percussion and very often all four instruments nestle together. Here, a solo is not a showpiece for the soloist, but a performance integrated into the overall event, as if it were all about a decade of equality and attentive interaction.

RONDO

stern_gr

Trio

Born in Berlin in 1976, the German-American pianist Benny Lackner has lived in California and New York since the age of 13 and lived on two continents for many years until he finally moved to Berlin in 2008 – he knows life on the road only too well. At some point, however, he just wanted to arrive. This longing for a home and safe haven is the subject of “Drake”, the current and sixth album by his trio, which he founded in New York in 2002 and which has since played numerous concerts on stages on almost every continent.

This long-standing relationship based on trust between Benny Lackner, drummer Matthieu Chazarenc and bassist Jerome Regard is characterized by an almost telepathic interplay and a grown serenity. During a joint performance at the 2016 XJazz Festival, the musicians reached a new level of relaxation. “It wasn’t about proving ourselves or showing how fast we can play. It was all about the song and giving the melodies space. We finally found our sound as a band that night.”

The songs for the next studio album soon crystallized. With its field recordings, drum loops and deep improvisations, “Rise to the Occasion” is a highlight of “Drake” and is representative of the band’s characteristic electro-acoustic style. At the same time, the song represents the principle of concentrating fully on the essence. And it is precisely this work on a very special electro-acoustic sound in combination with a special feel for melodies and harmonies that do not conform to the usual patterns and expectations that makes the piano trio stand out in the jazz piano trio landscape. It is not swing elements and rampant improvisations with a focus on the greatest possible effect that one encounters here, but simple musical themes that are embellished with prudence and emotion, which, in addition to stimulating electronic effects, also carry a calm pulse that is the basis for intense sound painting.

“Occasionally, elements of the fusion movement of the seventies are also used, sometimes like some bands of those days without the over-emphasized electronic expression and less pronounced in intensity. Rather, the sound is scaled back, especially since no lush electric guitars intervene in the sound, which is ultimately shaped by the keyboards and the occasional use of electronic effects. Occasionally, as on “Rise To The Occasion”, trance-like passages creep in, supported by the monotonously progressing drums, above which the chirping is sometimes quite discreet and filigree. Filigree, yes, such songs are also completely prepared in this way, gently dabbing piano sounds run through the floating “Decompression”, whereby this is gently supported by the rhythm section, “It’s Gonna Happen” is also a good example of this. “Entwurzelt” has the bassist playing with a distorted sound, you could be forgiven for thinking that an electric guitar has now slipped in. It is always these little nuances that pleasantly enrich the overall picture and create tension.

The result is music that flows warmly in the solar plexus and gives jazz a very modern touch, delicate and sensitive and carefully acting, inspiring the head cinema to individual soundtracks, in short, music for all occasions.”

(Wolfgang Giese, www.musikansich.de)

Benjamin Lackner was born in Berlin in 1976. He moved to California at the age of 13, where he completed his jazz studies at the California Institute of the Arts under the tutelage of Charlie Haden. Brad Mehldau played a major role as his role model and teacher in the late 90s and helped him find his own way as a pianist. Benny Lackner has played at the North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreux and Monterey Jazz Festival, worked with Billy Higgins, Marc Ribot, Brad Shepik, David Binney and participated in festivals where his band shared the stage with artists like Elvis Costello, John Scofield, Chris Potter, Massive Attack and Air. After 20 years in the USA, Benjamin Lackner has been living in Berlin again since 2008.

Jerôme Regard studied at the Conservatoire National Lyon, as well as at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique Paris under Jean-François Jenny Clark. He has performed at many jazz festivals worldwide and is a sought-after sideman. He has played with musicians such as Jan Garbarek, Flavio Boltro, Rosario Guilliani and Sylvain Beuf. Jerôme lives and teaches in Lyon, France.

Matthieu Chazarenc was born in 1977 in the southwest of France. He studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris under Daniel Humair and privately with Jeff Ballard, Ari Hoenig, Kenny Washington and John Riley. Matthieu is a sought-after sideman and has worked with musicians such as Sheila Jordan, Youn Sun Nah, Paolo Fresu, Giovanni Mirabassi and Mark Turner. Matthieu lives in Paris, France.

stern_gr

Also an achievement: to form an impressive piece of piano trio art from his now healed inner turmoil…

JAZZTHING

The result of this lengthy process is the album Drake, which he recorded with his tried and tested trio and which creates a hypnotic pull with its pulsating calm.

JAZZTHETIK

…with unobtrusive ensemble playing, in which the ego of the individual is not brought to the fore, but rather the common, open, with the courage to leave gaps and space for the partners. In the course of the pieces, double bass and piano, trumpet and piano, double bass and percussion and very often all four instruments nestle together. Here, a solo is not a showpiece for the soloist, but a performance integrated into the overall event, as if everything revolved around a decade of equality and attentive interaction.

RONDO

Lackner’s musical production, in any case, can be definitely considered within the most precious and exciting things we heard in the last few years. Drake is the new album from the Benny Lackner Trio, and since the first time I started listening to it there has been one special thing which amazed me more everything else, and this is the adoption of an extremely essential musical language, at times minimal, which is incredibly far from those mere demonstrations of technique and virtuosity that too often we hear in modern Jazz. In this sense, Lackner has found a extremely personal code for breaking the rules of standard Piano Trio music. The modernity and innovation of Lackner ‘s style, to some extent, are the characteristics that bring him closer to the giants of Jazz that were mentioned before.

S.B.G.

An addictive record!

RONDO

Speaking of Last Decade, many jazz musicians aspire to find a home at ECM, but few are called. Lackner, who has a handful of other albums on smaller labels, got the fateful call from Eicher a few years ago. After various delays, the recording sessions went down in September 2021 at Studios La Buissonne in Pernes-les-Fontaines, France. Eicher was very much in the house and in producer mode, and the resulting album benefits from the sonic radiance and sense of space and being in the moment — hallmark qualities for which ECM is renowned.From the opening probing piano-trumpet melody of “Where Do We Go From Here?” to the final suspended chord of the album-closer “My People,” Lackner shows a sensitive touch and an admirable restraint in his playing. He stretches out into flashes of serpentine fire at the right, ripe moments of a solo, as he does on the pensive 6/8 title track, “Last Decade.” He also lends Eick ample expressive space on the record; the pair seem to have a palpable empathetic connection, which one hopes will continue in the future.

THE INDEPENDENT