Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Lenz, Uli (Ulrich Martin)
Lenz, Uli (Ulrich Martin), piano; b. Frankfurt/Main, Germany, 10 March 1955. His mother Luise Marie Lenz, was a professional classical pianist, born February 23, 1926 in Frankfurt/Main. His father Wolfram Sebastian Emanuel Lenz was a professional classical composer, arranger, conductor, pianist, organist, born April 28, 1906 in Halle in Germany. He died in 1993.
He studied classical piano, cello and composition. From 1959-1968, he studied piano, composition and improvisation with his father Emanuel Lenz. From 1968-1973 he studied piano with Professor Ruth Rokohl at the Frankfurt Conservatory. From 1974-1978 he studied piano with Professor Gisela Sott, cello with Professor Rainer Noack and composition with Professor Hans-Ulrich Engelmann at the Frankfurt University.
When Lenz attended the Frankfurt Conservatory during the '70s, he studied classical piano and cello, but on his off-hours he played jazz wherever he could "anywhere from dance classes and piano bars to strip joints" both solo and with his own group. Upon completion of his degree, he moved to Italy to take in a new scene and play with different groups.
He returned to Germany in 1980, this time to Berlin, and made enough connections to begin touring Europe with other groups. He also made a name for himself as a solo performer, making his first unaccompanied appearance at a jazz festival in 1985, and touring Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean the following year. In 1987, Lenz traveled across the Atlantic for the first time and made his New York City debut. Shortly afterwards, Lenz sustained a hand injury that required a tendon transplant and a full year of rehab. Despite having to rework some of his fingering techniques, Lenz emerged from the ordeal with his skills intact, and his musicality more focused than ever. He played the Montreux Jazz Festival for the first time in 1989. Lenz spent the '90s as a mainstay on the festival circuit, playing numerous gigs all over the world.
In 1997, Lenz formed a trio featuring bassist Pepe Berns and drummer Thomas Alkier, who would accompany him through his European appearances. In 1999, Lenz signed with New York's Arkadia Jazz label.
His wife is Jutta Lenz, a painter.
By Steve Huey
Live At The Montreux Music Festival; Love Channel; Trane's Tree; Konzert Der Verlorenen Sohne; Echoes Of Mandela; Trouble In Paradise; Live At Sweet Basil; Midnight Candy; Rainmaker's Dance; The Berlin Concert (2004)
Johannes Barthelmes: Konzert der Verlorenen Sohne (1992), Trane's Tree (1993); Patricia Nomakosazana Dhlamini: Trouble in Paradise (1993); Ed Schuller and Victor Jones: Echoes of Mandela (1997)
The American Reporter Vol. 7, No. 1618 - June 27, 2001