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B.D. Lenz

Jazz fusion guitarist B.D. Lenz forged his identity by combining his background in mathematics with his knowledge of music theory to produce the right combination of grooves and melodies on his Tell the World (1997) and Lost and Found (1999), both independently recorded and produced at S.S. Sound Studios in Hamilton Square, NJ. The B.D. Lenz group consisted of Lenz (electric guitar), Geoff Mattoon (sax), James Rosocha (bass), and Tom Cottone (drums) in 2001. Drummer Brendan Buckley performed on the first CD and Cottone played drums on the second disc.

Bernard Davidson Lenz, who grew up in West Milford, NJ, discovered jazz relatively late in his life. He first encountered it at a clinic given by jazz guitarist Mike Stern at the Musician's Institute in Hollywood, CA, where Lenz studied in a one-year music program from 1989-1990. Lenz didn't perform in public, concentrating instead on learning guitar and music theory during his year in California. After a year of travels across the U.S. and in Europe, he returned to New Jersey to study math education and music at Trenton State College (later renamed the College of New Jersey) from 1991-1995. Jazz guitarists Mike Stern and Pat Metheny became his bridges to the jazz world. He listened to recordings by both and traveled into Manhattan to hear Stern perform at the 55 Bar in the West Village in New York City. Metheny and Stern piqued Lenz's interest in jazz and he started to listen to Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Charlie Parker. Lenz studied guitar briefly with Stern, who directed him to pianist Charlie Banacos for further jazz studies. Lenz received his B.A. in math education with a minor in music in 1995 and began teaching math at Lenape Valley High School in Stanhope, NJ. In 1991, he formed a jazz band and began writing tunes and performing gigs locally. But it wasn't until 1997 that a regular lineup for his band finally came together and he started to get serious engagements at the Morristown Community Theatre in Morristown, NJ, the Stanhope House in Stanhope, NJ, New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ, and at the 55 Bar, Wetlands, and the Panasonic Village Jazz Festival in New York City.

Prior to his interest in jazz, Lenz was devoted to rock. Like many teens of his generation, he listened to Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Rush. His guitar idols included Joe Satriani and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Guitar, however, was not his first instrument. He started on sax at age ten and played in the marching band and in pit orchestras in junior high school and at West Milford High School. He started guitar at age 14 and started to play in local bands before he realized that he needed to learn about the life of a professional musician. Lenz continued to work hard at his music. He practiced guitar daily and wrote new tunes whenever he got a chance. He never forgot his love of rock and other music.

Outside his jazz group, Lenz performed with rock singer John Virag, with folk-country singer/songwriter Jeff Callahan, and with jazz drummer Greg Frederico. After the success of Lost and Found, Lenz expanded his music by bringing together his interests in funk, soul, R&B, rock, and jazz, but he never abandoned the early influences of Stern and Metheny. ~ Robert Hicks, Rovi
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