Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

B.D. Lenz: Five & Live

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

The music of New Jersey-based guitarist B.D. Lenz has been licensed to more than 100 television shows internationally, so listeners are more likely to have heard his music through flatscreen speakers than on his seven studio CDs. But while TV provides artists with earning potential, it’s not exactly known for engendering creativity, which makes for a double-edged sword that cuts to the core of Lenz’s latest release, Five & Live. The concert CD features tracks requested by fans on Lenz’s website (including four covers), but even many of the guitarist’s originals have a ring of borrowed familiarity.

Take the opening “Uh Huh,” which features creative call and response between Lenz and saxophonist Geoff Mattoon that’s watered down by the track’s pedestrian funk gait. The faster “Smooth Sailing” sounds like an instrumental collage of Don Henley tunes; the 6/8-timed “Bridges” is the kind of syrupy fusion that ends up on the Weather Channel; and the previously unrecorded “Brother, You Will Know” is a ballad that echoes Spyro Gyra. Only “Juxtaposition,” featuring compelling work by bassist James Rosocha and a wind-controller solo by Mattoon, and “Fi’Fo’,” anchored by keyboardist Dan Paul and drummer Tom Cottone, have any bite.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published