Take Five With William Mentz
William Mentz has been performing, touring, and recording music since 1974. Mentz has recorded and released six albums, numerous commercial jingles and voice-overs, and logged over 7,500 live shows around the globe. William Mentz has fronted trios and 13- piece horn bands. He has always had the knack of making the stage his home, whether it is a quant bistro in Point Richmond, CA or in front of 65,000 people at Stern Wheel Reggata in West Virginia. Mentz has worked with world-class musicians and singers from all over the world and continues to record and perform with the best of the best. A short list of some of the artists William Mentz has had the privilege to share the stage with include John Denver, Jerry Springer, Richie Havens, Poco, The Beat Boys, Pat Boone, Conway Twitty, Dottie West, Ray Stevens, Bo Diddley, Lee Greenwood, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Temptations, Tommy Castro, Chuck Berr, Mary Wilson, Jerry Lee Lewish, Fats Domino, Art Linkletter, The Associations, and The Guess Who. William Mentz has fronted great bands like Night Flight, The Celebration Band, The Van-Dells, Strong Current, The Clevers, and recorded three albums with the fabulous Howlers.
Vocals and percussion.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I auditioned for a high school musical. I was in the sixth grade and the high school was putting on Oliver Twist, which needed younger kids. I got the part and got the bug.
Your sound and approach to music:
My sound is a little raw. I spent most of my music career fronting large bands that cover top 40, oldies, and blues. Jazz and pop standards have drawn another side of my performance to the surface.
Your dream band:
I would love to work with Kurt Elling and Diana Krall.
Road story: Your best or worst experience:
I have hundreds of stories from years on the road with bands. I hope to consolidate them and write a book someday.
One of my favorite concert venues was an outside concert held in West Virginia call the Stern Wheel Regatta. We played for 65,000 people on a huge stage by a beautiful river.
Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
"Without Love." It's a song written by Ray Charles and performed by many artists including Tom Jones. I recorded it while touring with the Van-Dells. We used to kill it in Las Vegas at the Four Queens.
The first Jazz album I bought was:
Tony Bennett and Bill Evans, The Tony Bennett and Bill Evans Album (Fantasy, 1975).
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
Connecting the audience and the song. Entertaining people never goes out of style.
CDs you are listening to now:
Diana Krall, The Very Best of Diana Krall (Verve);
Kurt Elling, 1619 Broadway (Concord).
How would you describe the state of jazz today?
What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Help me get involved.
What's your greatest fear when you perform?
That I'll wake up.
I manage a European motorcycle store.
If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:
Person stalking jazz musicians.