“95% of what I do is play jazz,” said Mike Lorenz, the Pennsylvanian Jazz musician who performed in a concert at the Red Door last Friday.
Students took a break from studying and writing final papers to release some stress while listening to an easygoing jazz concert, performed by Mike Lorenz and Friendz. The concert was a part of Red Door Jazz and it was presented last Friday, Dec. 1. The event was open to the public and was sponsored by Muhlenberg’s Student Engagement as well as Muhlenberg’s radio station, WMUH.
The general manager of WMUH, Paul Krempasky, explains that Mike Lorenz is a local guitarist/composer/band leader who has performed solo and with other musicians. Along with Krempasky, Ellen Lentine, who is the Associate Director of Student Engagement for Student Activities and Events, helped to coordinate the Mike Lorenz and Friendz concert. Last Friday, Lorenz performed as part of a trio on guitar with Sandy Eldren on the bass and Kevin Daly on the drums. The trio performed original compositions as well as renditions of established jazz pieces.
“[My favorite part about performing is] the spontaneity,” said Lorenz.
Lorenz started playing jazz when he was in high school around the age of fifteen or sixteen. During this time, with the help of his high school tennis coach, he realized that he wanted to be a musician.
“I had some mentors that pointed me in the right direction … My coach was like a big jazz-head and so he kind of gave me like some music to listen to,” said Lorenz.
Lorenz graduated from Moravian college with a degree in Jazz Performance.
“And when I went to college, there were some mentors that I also had there,” said Lorenz.
What Lorenz loves the most about jazz music is the freedom, community and communication.
“You know you get to work with [many musicians] and make it work. It’s really democratic,” said Lorenz.
Mike Lorenz and Friendz has been performing together in Pennsylvania for five years.
“My friend Gene came up with the name and he owns this place that we and I play at every week, and it’s called ‘Tired Hands Brewing Company’ in Ardmore [Pennsylvania],” said Lorenz. “I have different friends every week, so he [Gene] called it ‘Mike Lorenz and Friendz.”
The jazz musician has released a couple of albums. Lorenz released his first album in 2012 called “Out of the Woods.”
“It is like a modern jazz quintet thing and a little of a freer thing that I played with Kevin [Daly, who performed with Lorenz in the Red Door].”
Lorenz also recorded an organ trio album which includes covers of songs by the bands Black Sabbath and Nirvana. His other albums are called: “Riverside,” “Mike Lorenz and Friendz,” “I Am Watching My Day Slowly Disappear,” “Trudy” and “Two Quartets.”
Mike Lorenz gets his inspiration for writing and playing music from all kinds of places, including new music that he is listening to as well as music that he has always loved.
“The music of my heroes … trying to get inside it … is a big inspiration,” said Lorenz.
Lorenz mostly performs at local Pennsylvania venues, such as bars and restaurants. He plays a little bit in Lehigh Valley and at a local bookstore. Every now and then, he performs gigs at other places, such as colleges like Muhlenberg or the Trapp Door Gastropub in Emmaus, Pennsylvania.
“I can fake a lot of instruments, but I just play guitar,” said Lorenz.