Lorne Lofsky is a cool-toned guitarist in the tradition of Jimmy Raney and fellow Canadian Ed Bickert. Since Lofsky’s sound is not all that exciting, it is fortunate that he is not only an expert bop-based improviser but very good at picking out a repertoire that fits his style. For his trio set with bassist Mike Downes and drummer Jerry Fuller, Lofsky performs four songs by Bill Evans plus numbers by Wayne Shorter, John Lewis, Lennie Tristano (“317 East 32nd”), and Ravel, along with a few standards. To give variety to the date, four pieces are taken totally by Lofsky, who overdubs a second (and sometimes third) guitar with taste. “Subtle creativity” is a phrase that sums up this session as a whole, for it takes several playings to fully appreciate the tight musical communication between the trio members along with Lofsky’s inventive ideas.

AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow

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1994 Lorne Lofsky plays clean electric toned guitar bebop.  He is highly adept technically and paints clear and speedy jazz pastorals. This is a very enjoyable record that features bassist Mike Downes and drummer Jerry Fuller.  Also featured are four Lofsky solo pieces.

The production is crystal clear and its quite wonderful to hear this type of guitar playing done without the treble rolled down to zero. The drums sound particularly fine.

The materials consists mostly of standards and covers. It would be great to see more output from this artist.

  1. Production Quality:  18
  2. Relative Quality:  18
  3. Artfulness:  15
  4. Originality: 14
  5. Technicality: 18


Lorne Lofsky: guitar
Mike Downes: bass
Jerry Fuller: drums

“When these magical moments find their way to heart and mind they will remain vivid long after the sound of music has vanished into the night.”

Joey DeFrancesco, Guido Basso, Lorne Lofsky, Vito Rezza
One Take, Volume One
Alma Records – 2008

The beauty of jazz is that it is music containing the sound of surprise. Most jazz musicians only plan what they are going to play, not how they are going to play it. So it may be different each time it is played. Then there is the jazz jam, the descarga. Things heat up as the jam progresses. The group gets tighter and the music starts to flow, bubbling like a brook, tumbling like a waterfall, roaring like a river in flood. Making it up as they go along, the jazz jam may not be a big deal for seasoned musicians.

But to jam a recording session and do it all in just one take… Now that is really something—close to a miracle. Now it’s much more than just a jam. So was Alma Records producer, Peter Cardinali in over his head when he dreamed up this project? Jaws may have dropped, but on evidence, for all the wrong reasons.

Here on One Take, Volume One is the miraculous evidence of four superb musicians getting together to pull it off. And Alma captured that on CD and DVD simultaneously, which makes it even more remarkable. One Take, Volume One brings together the mighty Canadian jazz guitarist, Lorne Lofsky, venerable flugelhorn player, Guido Basso, and percussionist, Vito Rezza with the magnificent Hammond B3 of none other than Joey DeFrancesco. Although listeners are sure to find the CD breathtaking, the DVD is highly recommended as well.

Nothing—not even the finest sounding CD—can completely replace the experience of “being there” at the moment when the music happens. When these magical moments of melody, harmony and rhythm unfold on the unsuspecting ear and find their way to the innermost recesses of the heart and mind’s eye they will remain vivid and be remembered long after the sound of music has vanished into the night. For this reason alone, the DVD will hold pride of place in any music library shelf. The CD, of course recommends itself, being one of a kind and playable anytime, even when you cannot afford the intrusion of the picture.

Now, what makes this project unique is not necessarily what makes it a resounding success. This is largely due to the simple fact that the atmosphere was electric. Musicians knew what they were committing to tape and also the fact that had just one shot at making it work. Remember, this is not just a jam, but also a one-take jam. There is so much respect here. No one is leader, just four fine musicians getting down and making the impossible happen.

The super session kicks off with producer Peter Cardinali defining the challenge, and the musicians deciding who will call the tunes. Basso calls Rogers and Hart’s “My Romance.” He also states the theme with his hallmark luscious, warm tone and then proceeds to take a beautiful, understated solo for a couple of choruses. DeFrancesco eggs him on with the occasional growling chord or resonant flourish. Lofsky solos next and in the first few notes provides notice of why he is one of the most valued interpreters of song and also one of the leading solo guitarists in the jazz scene in Toronto. His solo is crafted with flighty exuberance, almost the antithesis of Basso’s warmth—almost personifying the moment when lovers intertwine—one playing off the sensuousness of the other’s shy skittishness. DeFrancesco’s solo is full of dazzling twists and turns as the inner drama of the song unwinds.

If the DVD is to be believed, then this is just a warm-up and is followed up—without flourish—by Frank Loesser’s classic, “If I were a Bell.” By now the band is really cooking, with Basso and DeFrancesco describing and defining the song from its head. It’s taken slightly faster than Miles Davis’ classic readings, with Rezza adding a touch of humor as he sounds the bells at the beginning of the track.

There is also some fine interplay between the musicians—especially when Rezza takes his star turn when he extrapolates the theme. Lofsky calls the next tune, “My Funny Valentine,” and proceeds to define the pace as well. By now the unit is really cooking. Basso’s flugelhorn plays low notes that one never really thought were possible on a flugelhorn. Lofsky’s fretwork is fluid, and he paces his solo with an unmatched sense of space. DeFrancesco’s playing slightly behind the beat is also quite special, as are the clever changes throughout the song.

Rezza and DeFrancesco together shape “Someday My Prince Will Come” as a slightly faster waltz. By now the group is steaming and nothing can come between the magic and the music, which gets even more adventurous from here on. Solos are more risque. Notes are more twisted. Harmonics are grabbed from out of thin air and every musician is heard digging deeper—from the upper register of the fretboard to the highs and lows of the flugelhorn, every musician stretches outside his comfort zone. DeFrancesco is particularly awe-inspiring on “Someday My Prince Will Come.” He appears to have unearthed the magical nature of the protagonist’s longing for being united with her love. During the final choruses of the song, the interplay between musicians sharing and exchanging bars with Rezza is also fascinating. Rezza also unearths otherworldly tones from his range of drums and his subtle shading is also near perfect, thanks to masterful use of brushes.

The session peaks on Tom Jobim’s “How Insensitive.” Here every musician navigates the twists and turns of the many-layered emotions of the song as if they were privy to special secrets, as if they know of the intimacy that exists every time you negotiate a Jobim song. Basso by now has found a link between flugelhorn and trombone and almost sounds like both. DeFrancesco is dazzling once again and you can see why he has the two finest hands—especially his effortless left hand—on the Hammond B3 since Jimmy Smith and Larry Young. And Lofsky’s reading of the song is, once again, just perfect with his breathtaking glissandos and chordal variations. Richard Carpenter’s “Walkin'” is no less a wonder. DeFrancesco and Rezza are particularly exuberant and recall the electricity of that day when Miles Davis made this track his own. Now you can feel yourself awaiting the end.

Here producer Peter Cardinali apparently had a surprise for the group—especially DeFrancesco. The DVD tracks him as he emerges from the recording booth with a score-sheet with his arrangement of Lucio Dalla’s extraordinary chart, “Caruso.” Apparently none of the musicians had heard of this track. So the sound of surprise takes on new meaning. Now Cardinali invites the musicians into his recording booth, ostensibly to hear the original. They emerge from the booth and appear to be fired up. Not only is the track an inspired choices for a date such as this, but the musicians appear to be moved by the music. DeFrancesco is spectacular as he opens the melody; Lofsky and Basso give mesmerizing performances on guitar and flugelhorn.

You know now that if the session does not end here, the emotion and the electricity of the event will dissipate completely. And so ended the first of one of Alma’s most ambitious projects. As a listener you find yourself asking whether the session was a success. The answer comes faster than you would have expected. And the moments of magic will last a very long time indeed.

The DVD also features some interesting features—including the “Food for Thought” segment, which provides a subtle hint as to why the session was such a resounding success. A word about the CD: this is an analog recording that is digitally mastered. So the quality of sound is truly life-like.

Tracks: My Romance; If I Were A Bell; My Funny Valentine; How Insensitive; Walkin’; Caruso.

Personnel: Joey DeFrancesco: Hammond B3 organ; Guido Basso: flugelhorn and trumpet; Vito Rezza: drums; Lorne Lofsky: guitar. Peter Cardinali: producer.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Alma Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream

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By Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes, May, 2006

Stateside jazz fans and critics have slept on Canadian guitarist Lorne Lofsky. A masterful improviser with a warm, appealing tone (on a Fender Telecaster, no less), he’s a finger-style player who, like the late genius Lenny Breau, is able to get closer to the harmonic richness and chordal voicings of pianist Bill Evans than most guitarists. Lofsky is the standout of this loose, highly interactive, free-blowing trio session with bassist Kieran Overs and drummer, producer and label head Barry Romberg. They move nimbly together as one on the swinging, time-shifting abstractions of standard vehicles like “Autumn Leaves,” “What Is This Thing Called Love?” and “All the Things You Are.” Romberg and Overs also distinguish themselves as first-rate improvisers and keen listeners along the way.

On a stretched-out take of Miles Davis’ “All Blues,” Lofsky easily tosses off quotes from Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” and Miles’ “Walkin’” while taking great liberties with the familiar melody. His playing over an open-ended take on Davis’ “Solar” is also full of daring choices and dazzling solo turns. While Lofsky’s quicksilver, organically flowing-over-the-bar-line linear concept (somewhat akin to John Abercrombie’s) is readily apparent throughout this adventurous trio outing, his penchant for lush chordal melodies is most pronounced on his own gorgeous ballad “One for Ed” and on Evans’ delicate “Turn Out the Stars.” Jazz-guitar aficionados definitely need to check this guy out.

Guitarist Lorne Lofsky is unquestionably one of Canada’s hidden treasures. He records infrequently, tours rarely and prefers to stay close to his home in Toronto, teaching students at York and Toronto Universities. Enticed by the news that a new recording is in the works, it’s as good a time as any to revisit his fine 1994 recording, Bill, Please.Lofsky has made a name for himself on occasional recordings and tours with Oscar Peterson, but when left to his own devices, his mainstream approach to jazz guitar is harmonically more informed by Lennie Tristano. Traces of Lenny Breau and another talent-deserving-wider-recognition, Ed Bickert, with whom Lofsky played from 1983 to 1991, are also evident.

But the artist who informs this session the most is, not surprisingly, Bill Evans. Not only does Lofsky cover four Evans tunes, but he also tackles double and triple overdubbed solo pieces, à la Evans’ Conversations with Myself. Lofsky manages to create layers that sometimes swing, as in Evans’ “Song for Helen”, and are sometimes more textural, as in his ethereal reading of Wayne Shorter’s “Fall”.

On the eight trio tunes, bassist Mike Downes and drummer Jerry Fuller are the perfect foils for Lofsky’s explorations. Whether keeping a lightly swinging pulse on John Lewis’ standard, “Django” or propelling Lofsky forward on Wayne Shorter’s “E.S.P.”, Downes and Fuller follow Lofsky’s lead while, at times, driving him in unexpected directions.

While the set is comprised mostly of mainstream titles, there is something both contemporary and timeless about the way Lofsky and the trio approach this often-covered material. There is plenty of interplay and clear chemistry between the players, which allows them to take the material places lesser musicians could not.

What makes this set sound as vibrant today as when it was recorded nearly ten years ago is the constant appearance of the unexpected in Lofsky’s playing. Bill, Please is one of the finest recordings of guitar-based jazz to come out of Canada. One can only hope that Lofsky’s new recording will be as full of challenge and surprise.

by  David Binder

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Lorne Lofsky
  • CD Title: Bill, Please
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 1994
  • Record Label: Jazz Inspiration Records
  • Tracks: Yesterdays, Fall, T.T.T. (Twelve Tone Tune), Witchcraft, E.S.P., Laurie, Django, Very Early, Daydream Believer, 317 East 32nd, The Lamp is Low, Song for Helen
  • Musicians: Lorne Lofsky (guitar), Mike Downes (bass), Jerry Fuller (drums)
  • Rating: Four Stars

View Original Review Here

By Mark Miller, Globe and Mail, October 19, 1992

Lorne Lofsky/Jazz Inspiration DSRD 31081

Toronto guitarist Lorne Lofsky doesn’t record often enough to worry about too much of a good thing. Pity. A great future was predicted when he got The Big Break at 25: an LP produced by Oscar Peterson, for the US Pablo label in 1980. Lorne Lofsky, a trio date with bassist Kieran Overs and drummer Bob McLaren, is the belated followup. In the interim, Lofsky has not been  much swayed by the popularity of the Scofields and Frisells; he remains true to an older, more traditional style, personalized by a quiet sort of virtuosity, a dry, sweet sound, and a variety of devilish harmonic twists. There’s the disconcerting ring of a Stanley Jordan to three overdubbed, two guitar pieces – if it’s intentional, it certainly flatters Jordan – but there’s a lot of more of someone like Lenny Breau to the eight trio tracks. As that might suggest, Lofsky’s guitar playing is of the highest order. Can’t ever be too much of that.

Guitarist Lorne Lofsky’s first album for the Jazz Inspiration label, and his first recording as a leader in 11 years, finds him in a much different state of development than on his prior Pablo release. Gone are the blues-influenced phrases, and the direct resemblance to fellow Canadian guitarist Ed Bickert (although Bickert’s presence is still evident in the advanced chordal playing of Lofsky’s music). What remains is a very aggressive, harmonically and rhythmically sophisticated player whose unique guitar style bears a striking resemblance to Bill Evans. The Evans influence is everywhere on this recording, from the choice of material (“All of You,” “My Foolish Heart,” “Solar,” and “Quiet Now” were all part of Evans’ repetoire), to the tracks which feature Lofsky overdubbing multiple guitars, a procedure Evans employed on several records. The trio is at its’ most furious on the title track, and on “All the Things You Are”; Lofsky constantly altering and displacing the harmonic movement of the tunes, while drummer Bob McLaren aggressively sets up false cadences and climaxes, disguising the form of the music. Solos by bassist Kieran Overs are often used by Lofsky as a means of further interaction, eschewing traditional chordal accompaniment, in favor of short phrases in response to the bassist’s lines (another trademark of Bill Evans). The rest of the album is somewhat lower key, although the music is always highly interactive and interesting. This is not a record for everyone; some may find Lofsky’s playing overbearing. For fans of the style, though, this comes highly reccomended.

AllMusic Review by Dan Cross

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By Andrew Sussman, The Jazz Column, July/August, 1991

Fanfare Magazine

Canadian guitarists Ed Bickert and Lorne Lofsky taem up for a solid straight-ahead session in This is New (CONCORD JAZZ 4414, 61:24, produced by Phil Sheridan). These are two technically proficient artists with a strong sense of swing, and the twelve cuts include turne by Ellington, Horace Silver, Johnny Mercer, Steve Swallow, and Cedar Walton. Neil Swainson (bass) and Jerry Fuller (drums) round out the quartet with a high level of professionalism.