ULI LENZ: Rainmaker’s Dance

Catalog# 71031

UPC# 602267103120

Uli Lenz: Piano;

Ira Coleman: Bass;

Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez: Drums;

T.K. Blue: Alto saxophone;


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He is a magician.” – Rolling Stone

The discovery of renowned German Jazz pianist Uli Lenz’s Arkadia Records CD, “Uli Lenz: Rainmakers Dance”, is a thought provoking and moving event. Rarely will you hear a Jazz album with a combination of such power and grace. From the spellbinding delicacy of A Perfect Couple to the stormy heights of Traumatic Experiences with Bavarian Trapdoors, Uli Lenz unique sound and writing style make him a rising star on the Jazz horizon. His songs, One Year After and Umbrella Indoors, were featured on the soundtrack of the award-winning film “Sideways”, starring Paul Giamatti.

“…capable of dizzying solo flights but is also adept at the use of space… colorful and respected presence.” – David R. Adler, All Music Guide

Already renowned internationally, Lenz is joined on his U.S. debut by music masters Ira Coleman on bass, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez on drums, with Arkadia label mate alto saxophonist T.K. Blue on several cuts as well. With a formidable command of the keyboard, composition and style, “Uli Lenz: Rainmakers Dance” not only represent the best of Jazz’s past, present and future, but masterfully displays the pianist’s playful sense of time and melody on this impressive album.

…the precision with which Uli Lenz actually seems to imprint those racy, intense figures into the piano keys is almost unbelievable.” – Rheinpfalz Magazine

The breadth of Lenz’s pianistic and compositional skills are astounding. He swings.” – F. Norman Vickers is Executive Director of the Jazz Society of Pensacola FL

Song Selection:

  1. Traumatic Experiences with Bavarian Trapdoors – 4:38
  2. Rainmaker’s Dance – 5:59
  3. Umbrella Indoors* – 4:56
  4. 1, 2, 3 Cuckoo! – 5:00
  5. RIP (Rest In Peace) – 6:38
  6. Subway to Vanilla City – 4:15
  7. A Perfect Couple – 5:45
  8. Brake for the Wild Boar Blues – 5:04
  9. One Year After* – 4:16
  10. Orange Coalition – 5:03
  11. My Foolish Heart (Victor Young, Ned Washington) – 6:24
  12. Little Ostrich* – 4:53

(* featured in the Fox Searchlight film, “Sideways”, starring Paul Giamatti)

Al songs composed by Uli Lenz, except as indicated.

Uli Lenz: Piano
Ira Coleman: Bass
Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez: Drums
T.K. Blue: Alto saxophone on tracks 1, 4, and 8

Total Time: 64 minutes
Produced by: Bob Karcy

What the Critics Say:

“”Rainmaker’s Dance” is the U.S. breakthrough album for German jazz pianist Uli Lenz. He’s joined by two highly sought-after rhythm section players, bassist Ira Coleman and drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, with altoist T.K. Blue (Talib Kibwe) sitting in on three of the 12 tracks. Lenz’s playing and writing are often highly complex, but he’s no cold technician — his music is full of personality and wit. He makes a number of widely varying statements on the blues, also borrowing from gospel and Latin while remaining rooted in an advanced post-bop vocabulary. Like his contemporary Kenny Werner, Lenz is capable of dizzying solo flights but is also adept at the use of space, as in “Subway to Vanilla City” and the beautiful ballad “A Perfect Couple.” On “Orange Coalition” and the finale, “Little Ostrich,” he presents contrasting studies in the use of 5/4 time. In his mid-forties at the time of this pivotal recording, Uli Lenz arrives on the American scene in plenty of time to become a colorful and respected presence.” – David R. Adler

“…enormous proficiency… with his wide-eyed musical zest to make magic… lovely, complex, fascinating compositions…” – Dan McClenaghan, The American Reporter

“Strong emotions are here, along with many surprises… Always evolving and never predictable, Uli’s style will grab your attention.” – John Barrett, Jazz USA

5 out of 5 stars New Jazz Pianist/Compser Debuts on Arkadia : When I picked up this CD, a glance at the tune-list told me this was an unusual album. Of twelve tunes on the album, only one, “My Foolish Heart” was familiar. The other eleven were composed by Lenz. I thought, maybe producer Bob Karcy and/or Lenz had a foolish heart or ego. On reading producer Bob Karcy’s liner notes, I learned that Lenz receive classical piano training and then moved on to jazz. He has performed jazz concerts in his native Germany but this CD is his first recording effort in the U.S. The breadth of Lenz’s pianistic and compositional skills are astounding. He swings. Some tunes are Monk-like in their harmonies. Some tunes have florid runs reminiscent of the Roger Williams “signature” run on “Autumn Leaves.” He even gives the ballad “My Foolish Heart” his own unique treatment with unusual harmonies. Lenz’s compositions have unique titles which have to do with his own experiences, but you’ll have to listen to the album and read the liner notes to fully appreciate this. Lenz is backed by New York studio musicians Ira Coleman, bass; Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, drums; and, on three numbers, by alto saxophonist T. K. Blue. Congratulations for Lenz and group for a gigantic first effort. I hope for the next album sooner rather than later.” – F. Norman Vickers is Volunteer Executive Director of the Jazz Society of Pensacola FL

“His penchant for resonant tonal clusters and deep, sometimes somber chording sets him apart from the copycat neoclassical bop breed.” – Hot House

“…an impeccable command of the keyboard, with a keen sense of dynamics and sensitivity to delicate passages akin to a classical player’s.” – Manila Times

“…the precision with which Uli Lenz actually seems to imprint those racy, intense figures into the piano keys is almost unbelievable.” – Rheinpfalz Magazine

…capable of dizzying solo flights but is also adept at the use of space… colorful and respected presence.” – David R. Adler, All Music Guide

About Uli Lenz:

Lenz was born in Frankfurt, West Germany in 1955 to musical parents who both played and taught piano and organ. Uli naturally followed in their footsteps, starting his studies of the keyboard at age 4. Simultaneously, he was exposed to jazz by his grandmother, who would wake young Uli in the middle of the night to listen to jazz broadcasts. One of the most direct influences was his own father, who taught Uli improvisation from the beginning. Uli explains, “so when I heard jazz when I was young, it wasn’t so strange for me, it was just a different way of phrasing. I was also influenced by the power of the blues, soul and R&B I heard in the clubs.”

During the 70s, Uli attended the Frankfurt Conservatory, studying classical piano and cello. Coupled with his staggering technique required for classical music and his love and exploration of jazz, Uli’s musical identity was formed, and soon made him a presence on the European jazz scene.

After graduation, Uli Lenz moved to Berlin in 1980 to work in the jazz clubs, and began to tour a multitude of countries in Europe and beyond. Uli also cultivated his formidable solo piano work, resulting in appearances at the Floez International Jazz Festival in 1985, the JazzFest Berlin, and a solo piano tour of the Balkan countries and the Mediterranean the next year.

In 1987, Uli performed in New York for the first time, but after he returned to Germany, “I had an accident and hurt my hand. I couldn’t play for almost a year, I had operations and even a tendon transplant. All this forced me to concentrate on my concept of music. I was able to regain my technical abilities, but in this one year, I learned more about music than I had learned in the last 20.”

After the year of recovery, Uli got back to work to establish himself as a truly international artist. He appeared at the Hennessey Jazz Festival in New York City, recorded a live CD with Joe Chambers and Cecil McBee, led his own trio through 10 countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and appeared at the Montreaux Jazz Festival.

Throughout the 90s, Uli has worked with saxophonists Steve Grossman and Don Menza, vocalist Abbey Lincoln, bassist Ed Schuller, Idris Muhammad, and recorded with vocalist Nomakosazana Dhlamini and saxophonist Johannes Barthelmes. Uli continued to tour internationally, often sponsored by the Goethe-Institut to represent Germany as a musical ambassador to Europe, East Africa, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, the list goes on and on.

Yet despite all his recording and performing experience, Lenz still didn’t have any CDs in worldwide distribution, and — with his U.S. performances confined to New York – still hadn’t made a dent in the American consciousness. In 1999, Lenz signed with New York’s Arkadia Jazz label, and began recording an album with bassist Ira Coleman and drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez. Featuring guest spots from saxophonist T.K. Blue, Rainmaker’s Dream was released in to high praise from the U.S. jazz community and received praise worldwide.

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