“One of Canada’s great guitar-playing legends.”
Music Online. Under the Radar.
Welcome to our Sunday music section called
“Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians.”
By David Eisenstadt
TORONTO April 24/22 – It is an understatement to say that Lorne Lofsky is one of Canada’s great guitar-playing legends.
Having performed and toured with musical luminaries like Pepper Adams, Chet Baker, Ed Bickert, Ray Brown, Rosemary Clooney, Joey Defrancesco, Dizzy Gillespie, Neil Henning, Dave Holland, Kirk MacDonald, Orsted Pederson, and Oscar Peterson, to mention a few, Lofsky’s still in the game and going strong.
Born on May 10, 1954, to Jewish parents Al (Abraham) and Magda (née Rosenbluth) Pokotilovsky, he and his sister Barbara Bresver were raised in Toronto, Canada.
He told me “I didn’t have an Orthodox upbringing. My family attended synagogue during the high holidays. I attended Hebrew school and had a Bar Mitzvah. The musical influences on my playing are quite varied. I think the biggest influences on me as a person and as a player came predominantly from my parents, but not from a religious or ethnic perspective. They were both very hard-working people, and I would certainly attribute my work ethic to their example. My father passed away in 1973, and that was devastating. To this day, I try to carry on his legacy. I feel like I’m living two lives in a way – mine and the one he never got to finish.”
As a high school rocker, Lorne Lofsky was bitten by the music in the Miles Davis jazz album, Kind of Blue – there was no looking back. In the 1970s he studied with Tony Braden and jazz improvisation with Robert Witmer and gigged with Canadian musicians Jerry Toth and Butch Watanabe. But it wasn’t until 1980 when the iconic Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson produced Lofsky’s first album, It Could Happen To You on Pablo Records. Fast forward to 1994 to 1996, he appeared as a mainstay guitarist in Peterson’s Quartet playing at venues in Canada and around the globe.
Oscar Peterson with Lorne Lofsky at the Munich Philharmonie
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In 1984, Lofsky studied linear and melodic development with internationally acclaimed alto saxophonist Lee Konitz in New York City.
From 1983 to 1991, he played with Ed Bickert in a quartet that produced two recordings – one titled This Is Now on the prestigious Concord label.
Lofsky has been featured in dozens of articles, radio/TV interviews, and recorded club dates as a sideman having played at jazz festivals across Canada and around the world with a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of jazz. In 1996, he was named Guitarist of the Year by the Jazz Report.
Jazz Guitar Today Talks to Lorne Lofsky
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Fronting his own Trio and co-leading the Bickert/Lofsky Quartet, he’s been a key sideman with Brass Connection, Alex Dean, Don Englert Quartet, FourinXchange with Doug Riley, Gary Williamson/Lorne Lofsky Duo, Ian Macdougall, Toronto Jazz All Stars, Tribute to Moe Koffman – with Bernie Senensky (undertheradarbook.com), and the Tribute to Wes Montgomery, among others.
A well sought-after educator, he’s been teaching at York University since 1978 while giving private guitar lessons, jazz workshops, and an introductory jazz performance course, including heading ‘The Jazz Camp’ from 1987 to 2004. He taught at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario from 1990 to 1995, then the University of Toronto from 1995 to 2002, and Humber College from 1998 to 2002, including special summer and ‘Community Music’ sessions from 2011 to 2012. He was Humber’s Artist in Residence from 2008 to 2010 and held the same position at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia during the fall of 2010, winter of 2012, and fall of 2015.
He said, “When the pandemic hit, I started teaching online. Now that things have opened a bit, I’ve been getting quite busy with gigs. I play my guitar for hours at a time most days and when everything initially came to a grinding halt, I just practised more. Life is short and there’s a lot to learn. I’m continuing to play at various performance spaces in and around Toronto with a few dates in Montreal, Ottawa, and Cape Breton coming up. I’m also going to Europe in May 2022 with the Canadian Jazz Collective which is a seven-piece group of incredible musicians including two great players, Kirk MacDonald on saxophone and Derrick Gardner on trumpet. My long-term plan is basically furthering my musical development for as long as I can.”
Credits: lornelofsky.com; Dee Hudson/YouTube; Jazz Guitar Today/YouTube
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A complete list of David Eisenstadt’s articles can be viewed under Music Online in the category section. Do you have comments or questions about this article? Contact David Eisenstadt at email@example.com
David Eisenstadt is the author of Under the Radar, 30 Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians. He is Founding Partner of tcgpr.com the Canadian Partner of IPREX Global Communication and a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the University of Calgary.
-A wonderful musician and a great article. Thanks, David! What a great contribution you are making. Much appreciated. – BC, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
-Glad you found him. Great piece! – DM, Toronto, Ontario Canada
-I’ve known Lorne since our teenage days, and we work together at York University. He’s one of the most committed musicians I’ve ever met anywhere! Thanks for this excellent piece on him and, again, David, it’s very interesting to learn some new things about all these wonderful musicians you’re featuring. – BK, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
-Nice article, David. Quite a virtuoso! – MM, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
-Lorne Lofsky is highly-skilled and a true guitar virtuoso. The collection of musicians, including Oscar Peterson, that he has played with is impressive. Thanks, David, for introducing another amazing Canadian Jewish musical talent to me. – AB, Toronto, Ontario, Canada