What’s Hot With Jazz Guitar: Lorne Lofsky

We just finished a series on ‘legendary guitarists’ of the past. Our next series will focus once again on contemporary guitar players. One of my readers suggested I do a column on Lorne Lofsky and once I investigated his playing, it seemed the perfect way to begin.

Lorne Lofsky is a very gifted but largely unrecognized jazz guitarist working out of Toronto, Canada. He has developed his own signature style, very sweet, smooth and lyrical with splashes of technical brilliance sprinkled in. On his website you will find several audio and video clips that showcase his playing magnificently. In addition to his solo recordings and recordings with his own groups, Lorne Lofsky has played with jazz greats Oscar Peterson, Chet Baker, and a host of others.

Online Biography:

Lorne Lofsky is a Canadian guitarist living in the Toronto area. He started out as a typical teenage rock ‘n roll guitar player, playing in basement bands and at high school dances. In his late teens, no longer enamored with playing blues based rock music, a friend turned him on to Miles Davis’s classic disk “Kind of Blue”. Hearing this record was, for Lorne, a musical revelation that led to a dramatic change is his approach to playing music.

Lorne was inspired to get together with like-minded friends, playing constantly, developing his chops and basic musical conception. Lorne began a more formal study of music while attending York University, in the mid 70’s (’74/75), focusing on jazz theory and performance. He spent two years under the guidance of John Gittins and Bob Witmer.

Around this time Lorne was also starting to do a bit of playing around Toronto, which eventually led to a week at the legendary George’s Spaghetti House with saxophonist Jerry Toth. Jerry was one of the finest Canadian saxophone players. His encouragement and support was instrumental in providing Lorne with the opportunity to be heard by the Toronto jazz audience.

Lorne started to work frequently at George’s as a leader and sideman, as well as the famous Toronto jazz venue “Bourbon Street” playing with a who’s who of the jazz world including Chet Baker, Pepper Adams, Bob Brookmeyer, Carl Fontana and many others.

During one week at George’s Spaghetti House as a sideman with trombonist Butch Watanabe, Lorne met the jazz legend Oscar Peterson. A few weeks later Lorne received a phone call from Oscar who offered to produce a record on the prestigious Pablo record label. The result was Lorne’s debut album entitled “It Could Happen To You”.

Lorne continued to work extensively in the Toronto area, including an appearance at the Ontario Place Forum as a featured guest with Oscar Peterson. Lorne also played with Oscar in Edmonton, Alberta for a week in ’82. In 1983 Lorne did an extended tour of the East coast of Canada with renowned saxophonist Pat LaBarbera. Also, in 1983 to 1991 Lorne played in a quartet with legendary jazz guitarist Ed Bickert. This quartet played frequently in and around the Toronto area. This collaboration yielded two recordings (one of which was for the prestigious Concord label entitled “This Is New”) and a tour of Spain in 1991.

In the early 80’s, Lorne began an important musical association with saxophonist extraordinaire Kirk Macdonald leading to the formation of a quartet that has continued to perform extensively in the Toronto area. Various versions of this quartet have played numerous dates outside of Toronto, including the Atlantic Jazz Festival, Montreal’s Upstairs Club, Vancouver’s Cotton Club and others.

From ’94-’96, Lorne was a member of the Oscar Peterson Quartet. The group performed at Carnegie Hall in N.Y.C., the Montreal Jazz Festival, Sao Paolo, Brazil and played numerous concerts throughout Europe. In addition, Lorne was featured on 3 CDs with Oscar. One of them was a double CD recorded live in Paris.

In addition, Lorne has, over the years taught many clinics on jazz guitar and improvisation. Lorne has been a jazz instructor at York University, in Toronto, since the late 70’s. As well, Lorne has taught for several years at the University of Toronto and has an extensive private teaching practice.

Lorne continues to teach and perform in the Toronto area where he remains a mainstay of the jazz scene.

Lorne Lofsky’s website

Sound and Video clips

Doc Dosco is a jazz guitarist, composer and audio consultant living in Los Angeles, CA. His website is located at http://www.docdosco.com, where you can find more information on the ‘What’s Hot in Jazz Guitar’ columns, audio clips of Doc’s playing, and many additional features. Doc plays Heritage guitars and endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube Amps, great for jazz (and anything else!)

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