Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Transition of Bernhard Lackner

Album Review
Bernhard Lackner - Transition
Genre: Jazz

It’s been a while since we sampled some of the album treats offered by Bernhard Lackner. If you missed our review of his album, Stories From Home, you can still check it out HERE.

Those TMBG students who were fortunate enough to attend Roy Vogt’s Bass Camp in 2012 also had a chance to take some instruction from Lackner himself, as he was a guest teacher!

In comparing Stories to the new album, Transition, Lackner is once again exploring special moments in time. He has composed this nine-song collection as an expression of his return to Austria after living in the USA.

As with Stories, Transition is Lackner with his heart on his sleeve, and he paints up a pretty big canvas of emotional experiences. The musicians play beautifully, but they also blend together with a familiarity not always present in bands. Each song evokes Lackner’s feelings, both public and private, and you are right there with them as they play it out. Though the album has a strong Fusion presence, it also fills the air with a true international flair. Vocalist, Lena Mentschel, provides accompaniment that varies between a snazzy scat, and an emotional calling to one’s past.

The album opens with The Jacket, a mile-a-minute Fusion expression with a busy bass/drums pocket, lively piano, and a sax that rips off the roof!

Welcome Back is a feisty jam - guitar, bass, drums, and piano.

Mixed Emotions is rich and melodic, with a signature riff that Lackner explores in several different ways throughout the piece.

For My Class is a really tasty number that starts with an almost gospel sounding piano. It quickly switches to what I can best describe as a slow but playful dance through childhood.

Camel Ride is one of those songs I find myself better off not examining too closely - er, the title, that is. It’s an adventurous Fusion/Rock number with piano, guitar, bass and drums. Some echoing effects add just the right touches to keep this one an enigma to me! Loved it!

Dreaming is one of those Lackner songs that opens the door to let you in on his secrets. It’s beautiful and simple. A piano as the foundation, and a harmonica singing the story.

The title song, Transition, has some of that vocal scat in it. The vocalist and the saxophone talk to the listener as one! It’s a vibrant, energetic game they play, and it adds tremendous dimension to the song (this pairing is featured more than once throughout the album, too).

Winter is another gorgeous song - possibly the best on the entire album. It’s just Lackner alone on bass, and the treat he shares with us is to die for! When the song started, I mentally drifted off somewhere to enjoy it, and as it finished, it felt like I had fallen over. The abrupt ending of the song took the floor out from under my reverie, and I had to blink my eyes to get back to reality! Powerful evocation in the mind.

Tegernsee is the closing number. Expressive, with sax, flute, and vocalist all enjoying each other’s company.

I wanted a picture of the actual Bavarian town, Tegernsee, to go along with this review, so I borrowed one from this website. All credit for the picture to the owners. Visit the site for a look at the town that inspired the song.

Enjoy this sampler of the music from Transition.

So, my final word on Transition is that this is an album for ALL lovers of Jazz with an emotional journey, and an "off-the beaten path" attitude. Lackner’s bass playing is - as always - masterful. The album features both combo and solo bass, so there’s plenty for the bass-lovers to enjoy. And I’m sure readers will agree, a bassist of extraordinary talent always sounds better when cradled in the arms of the most talented accompanying musicians.

Beautiful job, one and all. Thanks for giving me a real treat!

Album Musicians

Bernhard Lackner - Bass
Jeff Coffin - Sax, Flute
Lena Mentschel - Vocals
Oliver Keller - Guitar
Scott Bernard - Guitar
Michael Bauer - Guitar
Christian St├╝ckelschweiger - Piano
Michael Whittaker - Piano
De Marco Johnson - Piano, Harmonica
Christian Wegscheider - Piano, Keyboards
Pete Lockett - Percussion
Derico Watson - Drums
Marcus Finnie - Drums

Album available on

© 2013 C.L.Seamus for Thunder Row

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