Whenever a musician does an album about home, I know the theme will be a mix of retrospection and introspection. It’s one of my fave subjects in any artistic medium. Even a simple drive through “the old neighbourhood” is a trip I’m always happy to take.Bernhard Lackner’s genre - an expressive Jazz with strong Fusion elements - can go anywhere and be anything, so the album features a wide assortment of flavours and feelings.
Jazz is a complex form of music. I have to play the tracks multiple times before I can even begin to hear everything. In terms of sub-genres, I find Fusion to be the most involved of them all. When I watch experienced Jazz musicians as they listen to the music of other experienced Jazz musicians, I always ask myself, “What are they hearing?” Or better yet, “How are they hearing?”
I find Stories From Home akin to being invited to a great dinner. I don’t have to understand how it was made. I just sit down at the table and enjoy the meal, and then thank the cook for having the ability to do what he does.
The first two songs at Bernie’s table, Hollywood and The Tribute, have a strong saxophone presence. Great backing from piano, drums, guitar, and - of course - the bass. To me, the saxophone is a very talkative instrument. It can sound like anything from a crying baby to the busy rat-a-tat of typewriter keys.
On the dynamic opener, Hollywood, listen for the little da-dit-dit-da-dit-dit bass licks that creep in between the sax and piano! I like this use of space. Smooth middle section, and then the drums step to the front at the end, tap-dancing the song out the door.
The Tribute is a softer touch, but the sax still speaks with a big voice. Great slap bass intro with the drums in concert, and then that smooth blend of sax, guitar and piano. Love the guitar fadeout. There is a lot to listen to in this song, and everything is mixed together with astounding intricacy.
Turnaround starts with a snappy percussion lick and then goes into a spicy guitar melody, full of expression and feeling. Reminds me a little of the George Benson sound. Busy drums throughout and outstanding bass work in the middle!
That Time Of The Year is a soft piano piece with a distorted guitar taking over to enhance the rock feel. More slap bass to keep the groove going and get your head bobbing! Lackner’s bass on this track demonstrates something I love in music: the ability to stay with and feed the other musicians - not play above them. There are times for taking centre stage and times when the song’s the thing. Lackner’s good at knowing the difference.
And speaking of centre stage, Home, the theme song of the album, is a solo bass song that showcases not only Lackner’s talent, but his heartfelt skill at composing. Home defies words in terms of its simple beauty. This is one of those songs that not only tells you how he feels during his reminiscence, but invites you to explore your own feelings about what home means to you. Clearly my fave song of them all.
You Will Be Missed features a thoughtful, melancholy harmonica. Behind it, the strong fusion drumming adds tension. The title of the song suggests that the tension is there to remind us of the difficulty of loss. Great moody piano, and underneath it all, the dark rumble of the bass. Lackner finishes the song with some impressive finger work. I love the way he ends a lot of these songs. The musicians just seem to walk out the door while playing. Bye, now. Thanks for stopping by!
European Summer goes back to the sax voice and leads into some crazy good blends with the guitar. I’m still trying to work out all the voices in this one. Very detailed and complex. The drums are a special treat altogether, and the bassline is outrageously infectious. With Home being my fave song, this one comes in at number two, mostly because it challenges my ear.
Two Flies With One Hit is all about the guitars. Bass and lead together, friends ’til the end! Raunchy song - more rock than fusion, but should I ever forget the genre, the drums and piano are there to remind me. The sax takes over for a talkative solo, then back to the guitars. As the song flourishes, the instruments all come together in a spectacular union! Magnificent!
The album closes with Reprise. Piano and drums work together as the canvas. Guitars and bass the paint! There’s also some great lapsteel work in this song. Great ending to the theme of home.
Only two songs on this album are shorter than five minutes, so you can expect each of the others to be a rich exploration of Lackner’s gift, as musician and composer.
Thanks for the great dinner, Bernie! You’re some kind of cook, for sure!