beer, craft beer, improvised music, Jazz, Modern Music, Music, Philadelphia, Uncategorized

Update – September 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog (and an equally long time since I proclaimed I’d pay closer attention to it!) but here I am to give you a little update on what I’ve been up to. It’s easier if I just post my most recent mailing to my email list…enjoy!

Hi All,

A lot has been happening lately so I’ll do my best to catch you up with a short email.

First things first, I want to tell you about a great new opportunity I have been given in the Bethlehem area. As of a few weeks ago, I am now the jazz teacher at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts. I’m very excited to work with all of the talented students and direct the school’s accomplished Big Band. I’ll be sure keep you posted about any performances involving the group.

This month also marks a big first for me as I’ll be embarking on my first “tour” as a leader. Its short but you have to start somewhere! My trio will be playing a few gigs in Northern Vermont between September 13th and September 15th. Some stuff is still in the works but we’re excited nonetheless. Our big gig is at Hill Farmstead Brewery, recently rated the “best brewery in the world” by, in Greensboro, VT on Saturday, September 14th for Zwanze Day 2013, a major international beer event.

I continue to play weekly trio gigs at the best brewery in PA, Tired Hands Brewing Company. We have moved jazz night to Sundays for the time being and have had a great turn out. Join us one of these times if you can!

Edison’s Hot Mess keeps bouncing along as well and I continue to work on my solo repertoire at a handful of local gigs. Everything is detailed below. Come out to a gig and say ‘hi!’


Every Sunday in September (Sept 8th, not the 15th, 22nd and 29th)

Jazz night!!! (a unique trio every week!)

@ Tired Hands Brewing Company
16 Ardmore Ave
Ardmore, PA


Northern Kingdom Tour!!!
Friday September 13th – Sunday September 15th

Trio w/ Justin Sekelewski and Kevin Daly

Friday – TBD, near Montpelier, VT
Saturday – @ Hill Farmstead Brewery, Zwanze Day 2013, 3-6pm
Sunday – @ Three Penny Taproom, 108 Main St. Montpelier, VT 12-3pm


Sunday, September 8th

Solo Guitar – Jazz Brunch

@ Sette Luna
219 Ferry St.
Easton, PA


Thursday, September 12th

Edison’s Hot Mess

@ the Bookstore Speakeasy
336 Adams St.
Bethlehem, PA


Friday, September 20th

Edison’s Hot Mess

@ Two Rivers Brewing Company
542 Northampton St.
Easton, PA


Thursday, September 26th

Solo guitar

@ the Trapp Door
4226 Chestnut St.
Emmaus, PA


Saturday, September 28th

Edison’s Hot Mess

@ the Bookstore Speakeasy
336 Adams St.
Bethlehem, PA


Arts, beer, craft beer, Jazz, Modern Music, Music, Philadelphia, Uncategorized

Of the Woods release show – Beer Pairings!

I’m returning to the world of blogging to do a small, albeit sort of late, write-up about the upcoming Philadelphia CD release party for my first full length record, Of the Woods (purchase here).

This record was recorded in the summer of 2010 at my alma mater, Moravian College, and features a set of my original compositions compiled from the time I finished college in 2007 to the first few months I lived in Philadelphia. I’m excited to finally have the opportunity to share the music we created on that day.

The release concert is at Moonstone Arts Center in center city Philadelphia on Friday, February 10th (peep the facebook event here). Moonstone is a really neat place to play in a music scene that is quickly losing safe havens for original music and jazz in general. Another neat aspect of the venue is that Moonstone is a BYOB establishment. Being that I am a huge fan of craft beer, I thought it would be fun to suggest a few beer pairings for our set on Friday.

Philadelphia Weekly’s Elliott Sharp recently called my new record “autumnal and wintry.” This is perfect for my first beer pairing! Anyone who followed my blog in its infancy knows that I am a big fan of Stillwater Artisanal Ales from Baltimore, MD. Brewer Brian Strumke’s intensely creative, delectable roster of Belgian inspired ales is full of great brews that would, in my mind, pair perfectly with my music. Specifically, Autumnal, a German influenced saison with a delightfully roasted flavor and unique Belgian inspiration and taste. Based on the name of the beer this seems like quite the obvious choice but I don’t mind recommending it and will likely be sharing a bottle with my band Friday night.

I really think the earthy, grassy qualities of Belgian saisons or pale ales relate to qualities found in my music. Try a bottle or two of Orval. a classic Belgian pale ale with a grassy flavor or a bottle from the Lost Abbey, an American brewery that has a nice roster of farmhouse style ales. Think balanced, spiced and lively instead of bitter, biting and aggressive.

Selecting a brew to play off of the “wintry” elements in my music will put us in a different flavor profile. Winter ales tend to be dark, malty, boozy and nicely spiced with seasonal flavors. When I think of beers to drink during the winter I think of Belgian dark ales, roasty imperial stouts and barleywines. Considering that the release concert is at a venue and not in your living room I’d suggest shying away from a heavy, high octane, highly alcoholic barleywine or stout (unless you plan to share with a friend or two).

If you’re into Belgian dark ales I’d look for a bottle of Three Philosopher’s from Ommegang or a perhaps one of Allagash‘s dark Belgian brews. Both of these Northeast breweries have a great roster of Belgian style ales and can be obtained quite readily at Philadelphia bottle shops and bars. For a great European dark Belgian ale I’d search out a bottle of Pannepot, an amazing fisherman’s ale from De Struise Brouwers and sip it throughout our entire set. For those that like roasty, coffee flavors in their beer a great, affordable option is a four-pack of Sixpoint‘s Diesel stout. This is a great American stout that will please the hopheads in the audience as well as the dark beer drinkers. For those that love coffee with their beer a bottle or two of Founders Breakfast Stout is a super roasty, strong imperial stout that is easily found all over Philadelphia. If you must go big with a barleywine, buy a bottle of Old Stock Ale from North Coast brewery and split with a friend or two. I recently tasted a 2011 bottle of this brew and found it to be pleasantly warming but not excessively boozy. Sweet malt and alcohol flavors help balance things out.

Since my new record is called Of the Woods I think a few beers with wood inspired flavors are appropriate. If you’ve ever had a barrel aged beer you know that a lot of interesting flavors can be imparted on the brew from various types of liquor barrels. Vinous, funky, dry and complex flavors from wine barrels, in my mind, pair better than sweet vanilla and whiskey notes from bourbon barrels. For the big spender, try any bottle of Russian River‘s wine barrel aged beers for a tart, complex brew or a bottle of Anchorage Brewing Company’s Love Buzz. Both choices can be pricey but are certainly worth finding and splitting with a few friends. If you like smoked flavors in your beer, try a bottle of Haandbrygerriet‘s Norweigan Wood, a fantastic, traditional Norweigan ale from one of my favorite breweries on the planet. If you want a little more bang for your buck search out a bottle of Dogfish Head’s Immort Ale for a boozy, smoked beer experience from one of the regions most famous and experimental breweries.

If these pairings don’t sound like your thing, check out the music on Of the Woods and come up with a pairing or two yourself. For digital versions of the record check out iTunes, CDBaby, eMusic, or almost any other digital music service. To order a copy of the CD, BandCamp is the place to go.

Once again, here are the details for Fridays show…I hope you can join us!

Friday, February 10th, 2012, 8:30pm

Mike Lorenz Quartet CD release show!

@ Moonstone Arts Center, 110 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA

also performing, Elliot Levin/Ed Watkins duo!

baseball, beer, craft beer, Generalized, Jazz, Modern Music, Music, Philadelphia, Uncategorized

Happy New Year link roundup

When my grandmother was ending her phone conversation phone with my mom after our July 4th get together she thanked her for the nice time at our picnic and said “happy new year.”  Here’s some links to things I’ve been reading, watching, listening-to, and drinking to share and celebrate the new year.


Via Do the Math, I recently read through a really interesting interview from 1990 with Vernell Fournier, Ahmad Jamal’s drummer and creator of the “Poinciana-beat” among many other contributions to the trio’s sound.  The interview covers a bunch of great topics involving the trio and its formation and concept.

I’m also just beginning to read Bob Spitz’s biography on the Beatles, a book that’s been sitting on my shelf for years.  A few years ago I got through a bit of it but found it too dry.  Recently reading through the prologue I was excited by the imagery and storytelling and look forward to reading through the entire book this time.

As always I pay close attention to the blogs in my “blog-roll” especially Do the Math and Beerleaguer.


I don’t really watch much television other than tuning in to Phillies games.  Nor do I get into YouTube as much as some of my fellow musicians and peers but on occasion, I do find something of interesting.  Here are some things I’ve watched/listened to on YouTube of late.

Fight the Big Bull – I have one of their records but decided to see what their live shows look like since I plan on seeing them perform this weekend at the Stone in NYC.  They’re an awesome band from Richmond, VA that seems to do things on their own terms and, to my knowledge, haven’t made a wrong step yet.  I really like that this band operates from a “satellite” home base but is still able to play shows in NYC and elsewhere and have their records released on a recognized label in improvised music.

Kurt Rosenwinkel – As with most guitarists my age I check out a lot of Kurt Rosenwinkel stuff.  Considering he is a jazz guitarist playing original music to a small listening base, he is heavily documented on YouTube.  There are tons of great videos but a few recent solo performances really stand out.

Peter Bernstein w/ Michael Kanan – This stuff is really swingin’ and awesome!  Beautiful duo playing from one of my favorite guitarists!  There’s close-up video of what seems to be an entire set at Smalls in NYC.


Here’s what’s rotated through my listening list lately as well as a few things I’m excited to finally check out…

Bill Evans Trio – 1960 Birdland Sessions – This set, although repetitive, is really interesting.  It’s neat to hear “the” Bill Evans Trio before the recording of their two landmark albums.  The music is loose but not quite what it is on Waltz for Debbie and Sunday at the Village Vanguard.

Skip Wilkins – I Concentrate on You & After – Skip was one of my teachers in college and before leaving the country for a year, he graciously played a gig with my band AND gave me copies of his two newest records (as well as an unreleased session with his son, saxophonist Dan Wilkins, which is awesome!).  Both discs are great, taking me back to the countless times I went to see Skip play while I was in college.

Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter 1 : Gens de Couleur Libres -I own this on vinyl which I highly recommend because it comes with a CD and a poster and looks/sounds awesome!  The music is powerful and emotional, something that isn’t always associated with jazz.  I need to listen to this more but was really taken by the first time through.

Kurt Rosenwinkel w/ the Airmen of Note – this is from a recent NPR broadcast.  My friend, saxophonist/composer/arranger Ian O’Beirne and I agree that if you combined the music from this broadcast with Kurt’s recent record, Our Secret World, with the OJM band, you’d have a much better record.

and a few things I haven’t listened to yet…

Dave King – Indelicate (just got this in the mail but am stoked to finally listen to it)

Ralph Peterson Trio feat. Geri Allen – Triangular (just bought this at Siren Records in Doylestown on the 4th of July…looking forward to checking out more 1980s Geri Allen)


Here are my most recent beer reviews for

In addition to the beers I’ve reviewed I’ve had some amazing stuff lately including Russian River Salvation and Supplication which were only $6.50 and $11 respectively at Whole Foods!

Arts, beer, craft beer, Jazz, Modern Music, Music, Philadelphia

Consumer Record

Anyone that knows me well knows that for years I have been into buying records.  Although my rate of purchase has slowed down a bit in the past few years with other expenses mounting, there are still, now less regular, bursts of complete music consumerism.  This past week I managed to pull in four records that on the surface, without any planning, have quite a bit in common.

Each record features guitar, bass and drums.  Two records feature a saxophone out in front of the rhythm section.  It took me a minute to realize their similarities because honestly, the four records couldn’t be more different.

In chronological order…

The Paul Desmond Quartet – Live

Paul Desmond, alto saxophone w/ Ed Bickert, guitar; Don Thompson, bass; Jerry Fuller, drums

I bought this record on a late night impulse while browsing around a few jazz related message boards.  The nerdy subject of “jazz played on the telecaster” came up and after a few mentions of Ted Greene and Bill Frisell a poster made a few mentions of Ed Bickert (along with this YouTube clip), one of my favorite unsung jazz guitar heroes.  Ed is a Canadian guitarist that shared many gigs with the Don Thompson and Terry Clarke at a now defunct club in Toronto of which I don’t know the name.  Don Thompson was into recording gear and had the wherewithal to record each gig they played which then turned into several records in the coming decades including most famously, Jim Hall Live.  This record features alto saxophonist Paul Desmond playing standards with the house rhythm section.  After about one-and-a-half listens I’ve realized this record is just a study piece for swinging, medium tempo playing and a great example of beautiful guitar playing on standards.  Other than that , it’s pretty boring as every tune seems to sit at the metronome marking of “crusty white dude tempo.”

Ginger Baker Trio – Going Back Home

Ginger Baker, drums w/ Bill Frisell, guitar; Charlie Haden, bass

This record came to me after an unassuming search through the $1 bin outside Hideaway Music in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia.  I’ve been aware of this record for years but was always weary of hearing the drummer from Cream (!) play with two jazz musicians I greatly admire and love.  Simply put, this record is weird!  I don’t know how it works but if you see it around (especially for $1) give it a shot.  They play a few original compositions, the Thelonious Monk blues “Straight, No Chaser” (which Baker nearly swings on), and “Ramblin’,” one of my favorite early Ornette Coleman tunes from Change of the Century.  The album closes with a strange spoken word piece by Baker about the Indonesian occupation of East Timor.

Ralph Lalama Circle Line

Ralph Lalama, tenor saxophone w/ Peter Bernstein, guitar; Peter Washington, bass; Kenny Washington, drums

Another great find from Hideaway Music’s $1 bin is this great, straight ahead date featuring first class New York musicians on Dutch label Criss Cross.  This record utilizes the typical Criss Cross programming of any mid nineties record.  A few original tunes with the bulk of the album filled out with standards.  What the Paul Desmond record lacked in feel and variety, this record makes up in the first two tracks with an up tempo tune and a ballad duet between bass and saxophone.  Peter Bernstein is one of my favorite guitarists so any chance I have to hear him play and have his music in my collection I take it.  His playing on this record isn’t exactly showcased but he does take a few great turns as he always manages to do.

MAP – Six Improvisations for Guitar, Bass and Drums

Tatsuya Nakatani, percussion; Mary Halvorson, guitar; Clayton Thomas, bass

After finding and listening through my $1 bin purchases, I left the house Friday night to hear a performance by Japanese percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani and his Gong Orchestra.  The concert was really great and featured sets by Nakatani as well as his ensemble.  Having seen Nakatani play several times around my senior year of college at Connexions Art Gallery in Easton, PA, I’ve come to know what’s in store when I see him perform.  Still, it’s always great to see someone perform with such vigor and focus.  After the concert I browsed the selection of CDs for sale and found this record which I’ve been curious about since first reading about it several years ago.  Mary Halvorson is one of my favorite guitarists playing modern music today and the chance to hear her in a completely improvised setting with musicians she doesn’t always play with really piqued my interest.  From 2002, this recording is great for several reasons.  Firstly, it is awesome to hear what Mary Halvorson sounded like 9 years ago.  The foundation is the same but it is great to go back and listen to where her current sound came from, especially considering that she is still pretty young.  Second, the improvising is great and never loses momentum.  Each piece is on the short side and features great interplay and textural development.  Third, the recording sounds great!  When part of the music is meant to push your idea of texture and tone, sound quality is important!


Here’s a small link round-up of my beer reviews as posted on

Brasserie Du Dieu Ciel! – Rosee D’hibiscus

Weyerbacher – Sixteen

Dogfish Head – Hellhound on My Ale

Evil Twin – Before, During and After Christmas

baseball, beer, craft beer, Jazz, Music, Philadelphia

Around the internets

We are officially at the unofficial beginning of summer known as Memorial Day weekend.  I hope everyone enjoys whatever they may do with the nice weather and time off.  If you are interested in some reading, here are a few things to check out.


I’ve started writing beer reviews for a website based in Philadelphia called Drink Philly.  It’s been a really fun experience writing about an interest in which I’m still somewhat of an amateur.  On the Drink Philly site you can read my review of Dogfish Head’s Hellhound on My Ale, a beer brewed to commemorate the 100th anniversay of blues guitarist Robert Johnson’s birth, as well as my previous review of Stillwater Artisanal Ales’ Jaded.


A big inspiration for my blogging is Ethan Iverson’s Do the Math.  If you’re a “jazz” musician and haven’t read a page on this blog you are doing yourself an immense disservice.  In the past few years Ethan has interviewed Wynton Marsalis, Keith Jarrett, Django Bates, Gunther Schuller, Stanley Crouch, Tim Berne, Charlie Haden and most recently, Henry Threadgill.  This is really only the tip of the iceberg.  There are long pieces analyzing the style of the Tristano school; a piece honoring Lester Young on what would have been his 100th birthday; and a fantastic piece about jazz records made between 1973 and 1990.  The first time I met Ethan, I told him his blog was like my graduate school education, an idea I still firmly believe.  I’ve learned about a lot of music that I wouldn’t have been curious about otherwise and have been able to gain an interesting perspective on musicians I already admire through Ethan’s great interviewing skills.

The Threadgill piece just went up in 4 different parts.  You can read it here.  It’s a great primer for Ars Nova Workshop’s AACM festival beginning in June.


Summertime is a time for baseball.  Anyone that knows me would know that I’ve been following the Phillies closely since before the season began.  A great place to stay informed of the clubs daily actions and performance is Beerleaguer.  The comments get a little off the wall but the analysis Jason Weitzel and other contributors is always informative with a splash of wit and editorializing that isn’t present in other blogs.

baseball, beer, craft beer, Generalized, Jazz, Music, Philadelphia

A “Ruthless” man and other things…

I was told my first blog post was a little bit of a downer so I thought it would be good to quickly follow it up with something I intend to do quite often on this blog, a post about an upcoming show that I think everyone I know should check out.  This time around I’m going to throw in some quick thoughts on an assortment of things I’ve been getting into lately and share my thoughts.  But first, on with the show (so to speak)!


Tom Rainey is quite honestly one of my favorite drummers on the planet.  I’ve seen him play numerous times in the past 4 or 5 years, unfortunately the most recent was over a year ago at Ars Nova Workshop’s Composer Portrait with Tim Berne in late 2009.  My first experience hearing Tom Rainey play the drums was another Ars Nova show in the summer of 2006 at the Cinema, a now deceased venue in West Philly.  At the time, my friend Kyle and I were interested in checking out almost any music that defied “straight-ahead” conventions in jazz regardless of knowing anything about the performing musicians.

In retrospect, the show we saw at the Cinema was something I’d seriously go crazy over seeing now.  Tim Berne performed a set of what must have been Julius Hemphill music (his mentor during his first days in NYC) with trumpeter Baikida Carroll, a collaborator of Hemphill’s who appears on the legendary album, Dogon A.D.   The group, a quartet, was completed with Tom Rainey on drums and in retrospect, I assume, Michael Formanek on bass.  The music was powerful, dynamic and free as I vaguely recall.  My most vivid recollection of the night is a story I tell often when speaking of Tom Rainey.  One man in attendance, so struck by the performance, pointed at Tom after the concert and said “RUTHLESS, MAN!  RUTHLESS!”  That “ruthless” fire and creativity is something I’ll always associate with Tom Rainey.

Since that time I’ve seen Tom Rainey perform with Ralph Allesi’s Modular Theater, Angelica Sanchez, an ad hoc sextet assembled for the SIM/CIM faculty in the winter of 2007 and several performances with Brad Shepik’s trio as well as his Human Activity project as well as at the aforementioned Tim Berne composer portrait series.

This Saturday night Mr. Rainey makes his debut as a leader in Philadelphia, something over 25 years in the making, with his trio featuring Mary Halvorson on guitar and Ingrid Laubrock on saxophone.  The same trio released a record last year on Clean Feed records called Pool School which I have yet to check out but I’m sure it’s incredible.

The Tom Rainey Trio performs Saturday, May 7th at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia, PA.  Music begins at 7:30pm with Rob Mazurek’s Starlicker.  All the info you need can be found here.


Since this blog is just getting off the ground, I thought I’d take the opportunity to give a quick word about some things I’ve checked out recently that cover my range of interests and recommend them to who ever reads this far.

Reading– I just started reading Terry Teachout’s biography of Louis Armstrong called Pops.  I’m hoping this book follows the personal trend set by George Lewis’s A Power Stronger Than Itself, which I had trouble pulling myself away from and found very inspiring.

Music– I’m currently in the middle of going through the Claudia Quintet’s catalog from back to front.  It’s great to hear the music evolve in reverse and to realize my nostalgic affinity for the record I, Claudia, the first Claudia Quintet record I owned, contrasting with the composition beauty that is their newest release, Royal Toast.

Beer– Lately I’ve been really into checking out beers from Stillwater Artisanal Ales, a gypsy brewer from Maryland who does awesome beers, mostly in Belgian styles.  There are a few famous gypsy breweries such as Mikkeller from Denmark and Pretty Things from the US but Stillwater has been drawing my attention lately.  Here’s a cool story about the brewer on NPR’s website.  The last few bottles I picked up were from the Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting and were quite affordable.

Baseball– I love the Phillies.  They won tonight behind a great, complete game performance from Cole Hamels and a few timely hits from different key players on the roster.  I’ve been the 3 games so far this year and have honestly had the most joyful, fun experience each time I’ve gone (all of which were wins for the Phils to boot!).  Hopefully all of these trends continue.

If you’ve made it this far, you should be commended.  Hopefully I’ll see someone I know at Kung Fu Necktie this Saturday!