MuzicNotez: First off, it’s an honor to be doing this interview with you, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.
What motivated you to start creating music? What age did you begin?
- Phil Lentz: I started taking piano lessons at age 8, so I’ve been a musician in one form or another for most of my life. I have been inspired to write music for almost as long. I may at some point even record songs I wrote in high school. In fact, one song I wrote in college – Where Are All the People – is the featured vocal on my debut CD, “Phil Lentz Presents…”
MuzicNotez: Who were your musical influences, idols, or bands growing up that have helped mold you into the musician you are today? Or helped mold the music that you create?
- Phil Lentz: It’s a wide range of great artists – from Paul Simon and James Taylor to Dave Brubeck and Chick Correa. Some of my songs have the flavor of Burt Bacharach and the greats of bebop, such as Sonny Rollins and Charlie Parker. I was also heavily influenced growing up by the folk revolution of the 1960s, including Phil Ochs, Peter Paul and Mary and the wave of British musicians who took over the American music scene. More recently, I have great admiration for Bruce Hornsby, the Piano Guys, John McCutcheon and David Garrett.
MuzicNotez: What’s the ultimate goal you want your music to achieve, or for you to achieve in your career as a musician? Any particular message you wish to send?
- Phil Lentz: My goal as a musician is to create music that people enjoy listening to, music that creates the desire to hear more. Career-wise, my goal is to be recognized as a songwriter who can write tunes for almost any genre (except for maybe rap) that music fans enjoy listening to. My message would be that everyone should find or discover the music they really like and then support the musicians that create that music (like me, if you like my music).
MuzicNotez: What’s the greatest concert you’ve ever been to or performed?
- Phil Lentz: The greatest concert I attended was Simon and Garfunkel, outdoors at night, in Maryland many many years ago. It was a delight to hear their wonderful songs live. The best concert where I performed was at the Bitter End in New York City in a jazz band created by Music Makers, which runs music workshops. Those bands are usually very good, with very talented musicians. But one of those jazz workshops in particular reached close to perfection. Everyone was on the same page – from the singer to the drummer to the guitar player to the bassist to me, on piano – we were really tight that night.
MuzicNotez: Your debut album is entitled ‘Phil Lentz Presents…’, how does it feel having your first album released?
- Phil Lentz: Great satisfaction to hear songs I’ve been writing all my life performed by great musicians and available to the wider world for everyone to enjoy. I’m also so pleased at its reception – many friends did not know I was a composer. And the album has attracted fans from around the world. It’s immensely gratifying to hear their words of encouragement and support.
MuzicNotez: You composed these original jazz tracks and worked with Mr. Harte to arrange and produce the album. What was it like working with him?
- Phil Lentz: Dennis is a great musician and an even better friend. He learned music on the streets of Greenwich Village as a teenager and his experience making and creating music was invaluable to me as we put together my album. He has worked in recording studios – as an engineer and a studio musician — and also toured the world as a guitarist. His virtuosity with the guitar plus his insights as a professional musician helped turn my tunes into songs that will please listeners for a long time to come.
The fact is that every successful piece of music is always the result of a collaboration – from the composer who wrote the music to the artists who performed it to the producers and engineers who recorded it. As a result, every great song has many parents and I’m proud that Dennis’ name is next to mine on this album.
MuzicNotez: How long was the process to create this album? How do you go about composing your music?
- Phil Lentz: As I mentioned, I have been writing music since I was a teenager. Dennis and I picked out the songs of mine we thought were best and that got us on our way. It took us almost a year from the first rehearsals with the band to manufacturing the CD and distributing it on streaming sites.
As for writing music, I love to doodle on the piano with different chord combinations. Sometimes, I’ll stumble upon a combination that intrigues my ear and that will often turn into a new song.
Sometimes, it will just be a fragment that will stay a fragment for years until I figure out how to turn it into a full-blown song. “Tap Your Toes” on my album was written that way. I wrote the initial tune years ago, but couldn’t figure out what to do with it. So I put it aside and years later I rediscovered it and found a way to make it a real song.
Sometimes, a phrase from another song will inspire me. That’s how I wrote “Schuman’s Theme” on the album. I was learning Schumann’s piano piece, “Soaring,” and I made a mistake practicing the second slow part of the piece. I liked how the mistake sounded and turned it into a nice soft rock song.
MuzicNotez: What else are you working on? What can we expect to see and hear from you in the future?
- Phil Lentz: I continued to write songs while we were working on the album and I hope they form the core of a second album soon. There will probably be more songs with lyrics (only one song on my debut CD has lyrics), which could make it more commercial. I’ll find out soon.
MuzicNotez: Anything else you wish to say about yourself or your music? Any message for your fans?
- Phil Lentz: To those who enjoy my songs, please keep listening and streaming and, perhaps, downloading. There will be more soon…