Serambi Jazz hasn’t visited Bandung for quite some times. So now that the program landed again in the Parahyangan soil, the jazz aficionados should be excited. It was a 5 star quality concert with very interesting collaboration between a group who’s been placing its feet on Berlin and New York, and two of the best Indonesian musicians from younger generation. Representing Europe is a group formed more than a decade ago in New York, Benny Lackner Trio. This trio is led by the German-American pianist Benny Lackner, who’s been known as one of the most successful students of Brad Mehldau.
The trio came for an Asia, Australia and New Zealand tour in order to promote their 5th album, “Sisikiyou” which was recorded at the famous Jazzanova Studio in Berlin. For this tour Benny Lackner is accompanied by drummer Matthieu Chazarenc and bassist Paul Philipp Kleber. Speaking of Paul, we have been wowed by his mastery play last year when he came with Kai Brückner for a mind-bending encounter with Riza Arshad Project on April 2013. http://jazzuality.com/jazz-event-report/serambi-jazz-kai-bruckner-and-riza-arshad-project-the-report/. If this trio is already stunning, the collaboration with two of considerably young but highly skilled musicians got their master degrees in Netherlands: Johanes Radianto (guitar) and Adra Karim (keyboard/B3 organ).
We attended the Bandung gig on October 15, 2014 which took place at the historical hall of ITB, the Aula Barat (West Hall). There were lots of things going down in this particular spot in the 70’s when it comes to the history of jazz in Bandung. So placing such classy concert like this in this building created some kind of different atmosphere to the already fully spirited one.
The concert started right after the welcome speech from ITB, Mrs Sulastri and Riza Arshad. Lackner began with glittery solo piano as the opening of soft, smooth with David Bowie’s “Cygnet Committe.” Adra Karim joined them shortly after to play “Pianohaus”, a song listed in their 2012 album, “Chacuma”. The beauty of free jazz shone from them where both piano and keyboard collided yet they went on harmoniously.
Let’s get a little bit deeper with Benny Lackner Trio. This group was build under a standard jazz trio formation, but their concept is anything but typical. Their music is like the combination of hard grooving beats, slow, atmospheric sounds and modern jazz. The balance of the composed music and improvisation contains a deep respect for the Jazz tradition but at the same time bringing out contemporary elements of modern music which can be inspired by Radiohead as well as harmonic language inspired by composers such as Brahms and Chopin and Keith Jarrett. You can only imagine the wideness of their coverage musical area.
In a way, you can say that their music resonances the expressive jazz. They decorate their music with slight electronic that spiced the acoustic sound with subtle electronics by utilizing organ like the Nord that’s being used in this concert. The team marched on playing totally collective with each member plays an equal role inside. Modern, groovy beating rhythm, artistic and in their veins, you can find the fine electrocoustic feel.
So far they had formed a quartet at the West Hall of ITB. Johanes Radianto expanded the formation to quintet. “Name Dropper” arrived in fair fusion style. They went dreamy in the next song, not too long but enough to share a lot of feelings. Benny and Paul left the stage and a new organ trio was formed between Adra, Johanes and Matthieu. A warm swingin’ straightahead became a base for them to play around. That include, a cool 8-bar trading.
Lackner and Kleber came back again to play a song from their new album titled “Heartracer”. Heartbeating, heartpounding, and certainly, heartracing that was kept intense and sharp.
“A Park” brought them back to the beautifully build melodical structure. Next they played Adra’s composition titled “It Hurts A Bit” that created the wonderland atmosphere.
The unconventional interpretation of some diverse contemporary works of artists ranging from Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Björk, Feast to David Bowie has won more and more crowds everywhere they landed. But that’s not all, since they can fly their wings to reach wider lands by making surprisingly insightful arrangements of Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk and the Gershwins. and of course Benny’s former private mentor Brad Mehldau who openly stated his compliment to Benny.
The variation and combination between interesting covers and originals can be found in their collections like “Not the Same” (2003), “Sign of the Times” (2006), “Pilgrim” (2007) and “Cachuma” (2012). In the brand-new 5th album “Sisikiyou” they continue to feature a modern, groove-oriented sound with electronic embellishments. Funky, but full with twisting techniques that can only be done by highly skilled players like these lads.