"Lackner may be the first established pianist to come from the Mehldau school. With a contemporary approach, he helps give the piano trio a much-needed face lift." - John Kelman,AllAboutJazz.com
The Benny Lackner Trio featuring Derek Nievergelt and Robert Perkins was founded in New York in 2002. Having come together through mutual friendship and admiration, the three members began to play regularly in the local jazz scene. The trio very quickly began to formulate a unique sound and approach to playing and selecting material for a piano trio. This sound is a direct result of the influence of the trios of Keith Jarrett, Ahmad Jamal, Brad Meldhau, Bill Evans, and others. The result of this early collaboration is the recording of their first album “Not the Same” released to critical acclaim in 2004 (JazzTimes - "Where the BadPlus goes for the jugular on it's recordings, the Lacknerites keep it understated, a rarity for any jazz album.") ....The trio followed up with, “Sign of the Times” in 2006, ( -All About Jazz-" Sign of the Times proves itself a wonderfully realized work of art, every tune a highlight, they give the piano trio a much-needed facelift.")
The second half of 2006 finds the trio taking the next step in its’ evolution, once again taking to the studio to self-produce its third and most original album yet. Benny Lackner attributes the success of the trios many tours and critically acclaimed records to the fact that theirs is a true band approach. “We operate as a collective, every member has equal input in terms of musical ideas that help develop the style and sound of the group.” The other key ingredient to this band sound is the careful selection of material. On record and in concert one will hear the band play everything from sharp and stylish original pieces, to inventive covers of popular songs by artists such as Bjork, Jimmy Hendrix, Prince, Nick Drake, Nena Feist, as well as insightful arrangements of the music of Mingus, Monk, and Gerschwin. Their sonic embellishments on the sound of the acoustic piano trio (slight electronic enhancements by Lackner and some drum programming by Perkins) give the overall sound a subtle yet modern, ambient feel.
ABOUT THE MUSICIANS
Born in Berlin, Benny Lackner, was raised on American folk songs and blues by his California native father. Upon moving to America at 13, his jazz drummer uncle (Tom Lackner) introduced him to the world of jazz. Benny went on to study with pianist Brad Mehldau, to perform at the Monterey and the Montreux jazz festivals, and to play with artists such as the late Billy Higgins, Marc Ribot, Brad Shepik, the and Pheeroan akLaff and is now residing in NYC where is working with his internationally touring trio and as a sideman. Benny Lackner has recently shared bills with such Downtown NYC artists as Elvis Costello, the Jazz Passengers, Sex Mob, Vijay Iyer, Ralph Alessi, Kenny Wollesson,Jonathon Haffner and many others.
Derek Nievergelt (NYC) is a freelance/session musician who has performed and/or recorded with Myron Walden, Greg Osby, Edward Simon, Dianne Reeves, Stanley Jordan, Eric Harland, Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall, Cassandra Wilson, Oleta Adams, Jason Moran, Jojo Mayer, Kenny Wollesson, Eddie Henderson, Graham Haynes, Butch Morris, Bobby Watson and was a member of the Terence Blanchard Quintet with whom he toured the World and recorded the grammy nominated album Let's Get Lost. Besides being a member of the Benny Lackner Trio he is currently a member of Jeremy Pelt's Creation, The Mike Moreno Group and leads his own group The Phliptones.
Robert Perkins has enjoyed a professional career being associated on both coasts of the country. His journey so far has given him the opportunity to travel all over the world playing with bandleaders such as Michael Buble, Eric Reed, Ingrid Jenson, Charlie Hunter, Leon Parker, The Clayton Brothers, Terell Stafford, Bobby Watson, Chris Pierce, Dwight Trible and Tierney Sutton. Robert Perkins endorses DW Drums, Zildjian Cymbals and Regal Tip Sticks and Brushes.
from the November 2006 issue
BENNY LACKNER TRIO
Sign of the Times (Nagel-Heyer)
The recorded sound of this album is brittle. Everything glares. Robert Perkins’ cymbals sound like glass shattering in an echo chamber. Engineer Jon Rosenberg’s other recordings do not sound strange like this. Perhaps he intentionally created a distorted sonic signature to match Benny Lackner’s hard, edgy band. If so, oddly enough, it mostly works. Sign of the Times is piano trio music not for the faint of heart.
Lackner’s trio will inevitably be compared to The Bad Plus because of its amplitude and repertoire. Indeed, Prince’s title track kicks and twitches and hammers and has more in common with punk culture than jazz as we have known it. “Dresden Blues” has a bent blues form and a nasty stuttering syncopated groove.
But this trio is multi-dimensional. Its raw creative energy and brute force is directed by Lackner’s musical sophistication and imposing technical facility. They can play refined, lyrical (albeit urgent) pieces like “Ballade.” Lackner studied with Brad Mehldau, and on Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes” he reminds you of his teacher in the way his ideas spill over yet remain precise and defined. The band runs amok on “How About You,” but strategically, with killer solos from bassist Derek Nievergelt and drummer Robert Perkins.