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Meet B.D. Lenz

Meet B.D. Lenz
AAJ Staff By

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I currently live in:

Hackettstown, New Jersey (USA)

I joined All About Jazz in:

2018

Why did you decide to contribute to All About Jazz?

I feel that having been a bandleader for so long has given me a much better understanding of the business side. I've accomplished a lot as an independent musician and have learned so much over the years that I wanted to share what I learned. Musicians often ignore this aspect of their careers hoping that someone else will take care of it for them. But, these days, musicians can and should learn to handle their business on their own. Taking your career in your own hands will only present more opportunities to share your art that you've worked so hard at and nobody will every care as much about your career as you do. I really wish someone had shared these things with me when I was starting out!

How do you contribute to All About Jazz?

I'm the author of the Mind Your Business and Chats with Cats columns. Again, these are music business focused articles as I wanted to contribute something different to the website. Being a musician myself I didn't have as much interest reviewing recordings or interviewing other musicians and felt I could genuinely make a contribution by looking at the less glamorous side of the jazz business. I take an interest in the nuts and bolts of the industry and what makes it work and I want to share these things with other musicians so that they're more informed.

What is your musical background?

I grew up playing saxophone in my early years. In eighth grade my uncle gave me a guitar and that was it. Everything else went out the window! Since then I studied at Musician's Institute (Hollywood, CA) and then moved back to New Jersey and studied privately with some of the greatest. I studied through the mail with the legendary pianist/teacher Charlie Banacos. I also took lessons with guitarists Vic Juris and Mike Stern.

What was the first record you bought that you would still listen to today?

The first record I ever bought was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Damn the Torpedoes. Even though I've become more of a jazz head I still think this album is a classic. There's always special memories associated with your earliest influences. I grew up on rock music (Rush, Led Zeppelin, Beatles) but I just wasn't exposed to jazz until i went to music school and now it's my passion.

The first jazz albums that I bought were Time in Place by Mike Stern and Still Life Talking by Pat Metheny. I was a music student when I first heard these and it's no exaggeration to say that they both changed my life.

Aside from jazz, what styles of music do you enjoy?

My tastes are SO eclectic. I love rock, classical, funk, electronic music, etc. I'm really all over the place! Good music is good music regardless of the genre.

What are you listening to right now?

Right now I'm listening to my newest release Sole Searching. Ok, maybe that's a shameless plug but I, literally, just released it two days ago. It's a solo guitar album, just me and an acoustic guitar, and I've wanted to make it for years. It took a pandemic and quarantine to push me to finally do it.

What inspired you to write about jazz?

Besides my passion for learning about the music business I find jazz, and the people who participate in it, truly fascinating. It's a niche with it's own quirks but I love it all the same.

What do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies?

I fenced (yes, the sport!) in high school and have recently taken it up again. The discipline of learning music is applicable to anything. Just like learning guitar, fencing requires practice and proper technique. It's also nice to have some interests outside of "work."

I also love to read about history, particularly biographies. I'll read a biography on nearly anyone although I have a particular fondness for musicians of any era and any genre.

I'm also a family man with two kids. Music and family are my two greatest loves.

What role does jazz music play in your life?

Music is my passion and I've dedicated my life to it. Learning guitar and learning to compose has meant everything to me. Pursuing jazz has pushed me to become the best musician and writer I could possibly be. Even if I'm working on a musical project that's not necessarily a jazz thing, my jazz sensibilities always serve me well.

How does writing about jazz contribute to the music itself?

Again, my columns focus on the business side of jazz and writing these columns has given me the opportunity to seek the advice of experts who have contributed to my knowledge. Consequently, this knowledge has led to more and better opportunities for myself as a musician.

What do you like most about All About Jazz?

I love the breadth of the website: Interviews; reviews; advice; it's all here. And, even though the jazz community is global, it's also small at the same time. All About Jazz serves as an interactive hub for this community. It's amazing to get all the different perspectives of people around the world who share the same passion for this art form.

What positives have come from your association with All About Jazz?

Writing my Chats with Cats column has given me the opportunity to pick the brains of top industry professional. I get to ask questions that all musicians want to ask as well as hear amazing and informative stories about their experiences. It only adds to my own knowledge and business acumen.

Vinyl, CD or Streaming?

I'm old school. CDs!

Which article from your archive is the most memorable and why?

My first Mind Your Business article entitled Ashley's Graduation Party because it was my very first one and I was so excited to be a "columnist" for the center of the jazz community. To see my first work published was such a thrill.

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