Click on the tabs below to read a different account of the same experience told from His and Her points of view.
HOT CLUBE is exactly as I imagine the jazz clubs of Jack Keroac’s On the Road to be, without the sweating and drunk crowds going mad for the saxophone player blowing his soul into the mouthpiece — it’s a dark, dimly lit venue with low tables and chairs and a discrete bar at the entrance. It is the perfect atmosphere for a jazz gig. Although the Benny Lacker Trio doesn’t have a sax player, they’re still able to carry us away with their performance.
The Benny Lacker Trio are already performing when we arrive. We came down the street from Jardim dos Sentidos where we had dinner. The tables and chairs are all taken but we manage to find free benches upfront by the wall, close to the stage. I open my bag and set up my camera to take photos. The dim light makes it hard for the camera to focus properly, particularly at wide apertures. I try different lenses and settle mostly for my 55-200mm zoom.
Benny Lacker Trio are not a conventional jazz band. They incorporate effects pedals into their sound and in their portfolio they have jazz versions of songs by artists such as Jimmy Hendrix. Benny at the piano sets the tone for most of the songs and the bass player alternates between a bass guitar and a contrabass. Natalie is firing away notes on her iPhone. When I glance at it, what she’s writing reminds me a lot of the flow of Jack Keroac’s prose. Unedited. Free flowing. I’m shooting my camera to the rhythm of the music. I find my legs and feet swinging to the sexy off tempo beats of the snare drums. There is something about the beat of drums. Perhaps it’s some primitive connection to our tribal ancestry, but drummers seem to control the flow of a song and put us under the spell of their rhythm.
When they make a short recess I am too thristy and need a beer. Outside in the back there is a cool backyard patio with grey pebbles and charcoal walls. Strategically placed spotlights give a hazy, dreamlike quality to the atmosphere. Natalie is off doing her thing, mingling, talking to the musicians. I sit in a chair, sipping my beer, the jazz still flowing in my ears. There’s a staircase leading from the patio to the upper storey, where a yellow light glows from a large, curtained window. For some reason, the intimacy of the atmosphere reminds me of Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World.
We go back inside and I get to the rhythm of taking photos again. Letting the music guide me, shooting from instinct. When we call it a night, we’re tired. But the music and the beats still ring in my ears.
BENNY LACKNER with his new album Siskiyou seems to have represented his period of creative standstill justified by the brooding mood which becomes vibrant and colourful by the end of each track. His inspiration came with the birth of his second child. The NYC/Berlin based Trio started to schedule a series of gigs in Portugal in 2004 after they met Tiago Bettencourt a singer song-writer. Since then the Trio have been warmly welcomed by the portuguese audiences.
I was very impressed with the performance by the Benny Lackner Trio I saw on Thursday 18th of June 2015. Their new album Siskiyou was covered. At Hot Club the mood swung for the wondering melodies overlapping tunes, as they circled back on themselves. The 4th Member was a contrast of conjunct melody with an electric hint and scratchy sound reproduced by the tip of the brush against the ride cymbal. There was a dynamic change, rapidly increasing the tempo from piano to forte, from introspection to playful prancing.
Palau was the next track presented and Lackner jokingly took the opportunity to show his charisma while joking on the phonetic similarity of the title Palau to a Portuguese word; he probably wanted to ease the atmosphere before the brooding Palau. The sounds of drips falling into an ocean of soothing sounds similar to a xylophone being played, anticipating a time now for a dreary feeling, which was followed by a sudden halt and then picked up again with a playful exchange of tik taking drumsticks and pretty rhythmic energy given by Lackner at the piano.
Then it was chaos, a jarring harmony filled me up racing my heartbeat. All I wanted to do was just stand up and move wildly letting myself go because sitting still became intolerable, but then that sudden halt again which left me in need for more. At the break, while having a beer, I had a quick chat with him and he told me about his relocation to Berlin. The question just had to be asked: “what or who inspired you to get back to composing again?”, his face lit up and grinning he replied:”My children, we just had a baby and he’s 6 months now”. Then he mimicked himself cradling his babyboy. To sum it up, Benny was very sociable, proved to be the passionate and sensitive, which can be picked up in his music and performance. He was a revelation to me and I found his music an all-in-one emotional experience.