Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians: Lorie Wolf. Drummer, Composer, Educator.

“I love the musicians in my band Queen Kong, who seamlessly blend Ashkenazi Jewish idiom with jazz, free improv, rock, and punk.”

-Lorie Wolf

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Lorie Wolf


Music Online. Under the Radar

Welcome to our Sunday music section called

“Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians.”

By David Eisenstadt

TORONTO. June 19/22 – Readers of my weekly columns and my book Under the Radar – 30 Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians, continue to share their “I didn’t know that” or “Who knew?” perspectives for almost every piece I write. They (some are musicians) also urge me to cover musicians who are well-known and in other cases, not so well-known.

So, I continue to discover and marvel at the interconnectivity between musicians about whom I profile.

Toronto, Canada’s Lorie Wolf is no exception.

I didn’t know she runs the Toronto Klezmer Society and also manages children’s programming at the annual KlezKanada summer retreat in the province of Quebec for Klezmer enthusiasts.

Drummers like Lorie Wolf lead their own groups and are often in-demand sideliners. “I love the musicians in my band Queen Kong, who seamlessly blend Ashkenazi Jewish idiom with jazz, free improv, rock, and punk.” The group includes a slew of talented Toronto area musicians…guitarist Graham Campbell, Nate Dell-Vandenberg on trombone, trumpeter Max Forster, and Tom Richards plays the tuba.

Other artists who regularly appear with Wolf include sax player Allison Au, Jason Freeman-Fox on violin, pianist Tania Gill, trumpet player Rebecca Hennessey, bassists Michael Herring and Brett Higgins, tubist Nolan Murphy, clarinetists Virginia MacDonald, and Majd Sekkar, and cellist Beth Silver. She said, “I love playing with these talented improvisers who make up the passionate Toronto Jazz and World Music community.  We are inspired by klezmer, jazz, and everything John Zorn.” The legendary New York-based Zorn is best known for the Radical Jewish Culture movement.

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Hora Machine

>>> Click HERE to watch this video <<<


Wolf has collaborated as a bandleader with well-known musicians including Lina Allemano, David Buchbinder (cjnonline.com | cjnonline.ca October. 24/21), Aviva Chernick (Under the Radar –  30 Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians), Rebecca Hennessey, Tania Gill, George Koller, Lenka Lichtenberg, Fern Lindzon, Frank London, Don Thompson, and Dave Wall, to list a few.

Born in Toronto to parents with Romanian and Polish roots, she “grew up sort of Orthodox,” and said, “we sang a lot in the mornings at my Jewish day school which was a very early and formative start to my musical career.” As a youngster, “I was always singing and making up little songs. My dad taught me a bit of guitar when I was 12 and we listened to great records,” she added.

Lorie began drum lessons with a neighbour at 17 and not unlike our son, Harris Eisenstadt, took drum lessons at Toronto’s Just Drums. “I started drum study more seriously with renowned teacher Jim Blackley early on, and more recently with New York’s Dan Weiss. Earning a BFA at York University “I had great teachers like Michael Marcuzzi, John Brownell and learned South Indian Percussion from Tricky Sankaran.”

She “earned a B.Ed. from the University of Toronto and for the past 14 years I’ve taught at Toronto’s Clinton Street, public school.” A passionate drummer, she attended Humber College and studied with Mark Kelso, Paul Delong, Ted Warren, and Chendy Leon.” Drum study never ends as she studied composition and arranging with Frank London of the Klezmatics.

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“A Way Out” Written by Lorie Wolf and performed by Queen Kong

>>> Click HERE to watch this video <<< 


Wolf has glowing praise for the legendary John Zorn. “I like how he used Jewish modes and scales and ornamentations to compose new and radical Jewish compositions and his Masada composition is one of my biggest influences.”

But the Covid 19 pandemic “kyboshed all my gigs and plunged me into a withdrawal-like symptom of depression and anxiety – but it also gave me the time to write some cool stuff.  I have just released a record with Queen Kong called Fray which is available on Bandcamp and hope to tour with the band in the latter part of 2022. I also have a Jewish wedding event band called the Horah Machine where I get to play all the Jewish music that I love.”

Wearing her composer, bandleader, and drumming hats, you might want to give a listen to her 2011 disc Mazel and Schlimazel, and her 2008 recording Taibele and Her Demon. Also in 2008, as a member of the Sister of Sheynville Lorie Wolf received a Canadian Folk Music Award for her work on Sheynville Express.

Credits: Photo, Fred Berkin; Lorie Wolf/YouTube; 

The above article is also available on our Community Jewish News Podcast Service. Click HERE to listen to it.

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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 cjnonline@protonmail.com  or deisenstadt@tcgpr.com

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David Eisenstadt is the author of Under the Radar, 30 Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians. He is Founding Partner of tcgpr.com and a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the University of Calgary.

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