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Take Five With Mike Lorenz

Mike Lorenz By

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Meet Mike Lorenz:

Mike Lorenz, guitarist/ composer/ educator, hails from Bethlehem, PA where he is a member of the music faculty at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts. For over a decade, Mike has kept a busy schedule as a freelancing performer, leading his trio/quartet in performances up-and-down the Northeast Corridor. He holds a steady residency at Tired Hands Brewing Company in Ardmore, PA, one of the top 50 breweries in the world, playing every Thursday night since 2012. His most recent project, Mike Lorenz & the Witherbees, released its first album in August of 2019 and features former student-turned- collaborator Jacqui Armbruster on vocals & viola.

Instrument:

Guitar.

Influences

Here's a list of influences that I think are unique to me/unique to my sound currently: Grant Green, Bill Frisell, Jim Hall, Nels Cline, Sonny Sharrock, Paul Motian, Paul Bley, Dave Douglas, electric Miles, the AACM, Jerry Garcia, Keith Jarrett, the Beach Boys, The Beatles, David Lynch.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I would play pretend concerts every day after school.

Your sound and approach to music:

My sound is open and expressive. I feel best in moments where there is some type of "controlled chaos" or unpredictability to the proceedings, even when there is form/melody/et al present. I love playing original music and composing music that is open to interpretation and messes with the traditional forms and practices of jazz. As much as I love original music, an honest rendition of a curated cover song is also a wonderful thing and has become a big part of my sound.

Favorite venue:

My favorite venue is any great listening room. I recently made my debut as a leader at the legendary folk venue, Godfrey Daniels, in my adopted home of Bethlehem, PA. Godfrey's has long been known as a great listening room and the experience of playing for such an attentive and reactive audience was great. Otherwise, my favorite place to play is at Tired Hands Brewing Company's cozy BrewCafe, a place I've been privileged to play every Thursday night for going on seven years. It's where I get to test stuff out and find new directions for my assembled bands.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

My favorite recording is my most recent album, Mike Lorenz & the Witherbees. I think it demonstrates my sound and interests in a unique and honest way. It also reminds me of all of the fun we have as a band and how much of a treat it is to make music with friends with whom you have a long-standing relationship. New friends and old friends working together. The band recently recorded some new music that I think is even better!

The first Jazz album I bought was:

I am not positive but its either a Miles Davis collection or the Bluebird/RCA version of Art Blakey's A Night in Tunisia.

Did you know...

I'm a pretty avid pizza guy and have hopes to open my own pizza shop someday.

What you are listening to now:

Ryan Power: They Sell Doomsday
Art Ensemble Of Chicago: We Are On the Edge
Pete La Roca: Turkish Women at the Bath
Bill Frisell: Beautiful Dreamer
Grateful Dead: Europe 72

Desert Island picks:

Paul Motian Trio: I Have the Room Above Her
Sonny Sharrock: Ask the Ages
Bill Frisell: Have a Little Faith
Sonny Rollins: the Bridge
The Beatles: White Album

What is in the near future?

Working on the next Witherbees album, figuring out how and when to release an album from my MANY MANSIONS project (a sonic tribute to Sonny Sharrock with Kevin Ripley and Sandy Eldred) that is in the can already, booking plans for Summer 2020, getting through the school year.

By Day:

I teach guitar and jazz studies at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts in Bethlehem, PA.

If I could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be and why?

I'm going to stick with music and say I'd like to have dinner with Charlie Christian. He started it all in regards to jazz guitar and even much of bebop language though there isn't a ton of info about him. I'd hope after dinner I'd catch him playing a set.

What s on your summer reading list?

Room to Dream: David Lynch & Kristine McKenna
Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest: Hanif Abdurraqib
Burn the Place: Iliana Regan
Jazz from Detroit: Mark Stryker
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