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TD Toronto Jazz Festival Interview

Listening to veteran guitar player Lorne Lofsky is very much an adventure worth taking, especially when bass player Kieran Overs and drummer Barry Romberg are along for the ride. Lofsky likens it to “getting in a car and driving down a road that you haven’t been down before . . . checking out all the sights and just seeing what’s there.” Catch Lorne Lofsky with Kieran Overs on June 22nd at Mezzetta Restaurant & Tapas Bar and at Chalkers Pub on the 23rd with the Lorne Lofsky Trio, featuring Overs and Romberg. You’ll be sure to recognize some classic standards, but their open approach to exploring these compositions will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Lofsky about his musical journey and what keeps him inspired.

As a teenager, the first exciting music for Lofsky was blues based rock music and the sound of guitarist Eric Clapton, who was his main inspiration. That changed in 1974 when he discovered the sound of Ed Bickert. Lofsky describes hearing Bickert for the first time as a life altering experience that really motivated him to dig deeper into jazz guitar. “It was the right time for me to hear that”, Lofsky explains, “something that really grabbed me, like, deep inside and made we want to really start getting much deeper into music”. Lofsky reflected on the impact of Bickert, saying he “can’t put into words how much I learned playing with him”, describing Bickert as “very lyrical”, with an “incredible sense of harmony – a second to none, immaculate sense of harmony.” Needless to say, Ed is Lornes’s favourite jazz guitar player.

Although Lofsky has never been focused solely on guitar players, he has pulled some recent inspiration from guitarists Kurt Rosenwinkel and Lionel Loueke, who he describes as very interesting current guitarists. You can catch Rosenwinkel at this year’s festival – June 22nd at Church of the Holy Trinity.

As a faculty member at York University, Lofsky encourages his students to find out where their instrument came from, but most importantly to explore players on instruments other than their own. That’s an approach that he has put into practice for most of his playing career, trying to avoid things that sit nicely on the guitar, that he describes as “stock ideas.” The goal of this concept is to sound less like a guitar player and more like a musician that just happens to play the guitar.

Most recently Lofsky was in the studio with the Kirk MacDonald Jazz Orchestra to record “Family Suite for Large Ensemble” which was released May 1st on Addo Records. MacDonald’s Jazz Orchestra features many of the top players in the Toronto music scene, where Lofsky has been a pillar for decades.

Even after decades spent at the forefront of the Toronto jazz scene, Lorne Lofsky continues to focus on his craft and grow as a musician. Lofsky is a must see.

by Mike DeiCon

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