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Canadian Heritage

Lorne Lofsky


LORNE LOFSKY (guitarist) was born on May 10, 1954, and grew up in the Toronto area, where he currently lives. He attended York University in 1974 and 1975, focusing his studies on jazz theory and performance, studying with John Gittins and Bob Witmer. He is currently on the part-time faculty at York instructing in Jazz Guitar and Jazz Workshop studies.

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, a friend turned him on to Miles Davis's classic disk "Kind of Blue" which was a musical revelation for Lofsky, dramatically altering his approach to playing music.

Around this time Lorne was also starting to do some playing around Toronto, which eventually led to a week at the legendary George's Spaghetti House where Jerry Toth, one of the finest saxophone players in Canada, provided the encouragement and support instrumental to Lofsky’s developing career. He began to work frequently at George's as both a leader and sideman. He was also heard frequently performing at the famous Toronto jazz venue "Bourbon Street" where he played 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, Lofsky met the legendary Oscar Peterson, who, within weeks, called Lofsky to offer to produce a record on Peterson’s illustrious Pablo record label. The result was Lorne Lofsky’s debut album entitled "It Could Happen To You".

Lofsky continued to work extensively in the Toronto area, including an appearance at the Ontario Place Forum as a featured guest with Oscar Peterson. He also played with Peterson in Edmonton, Alberta for a week in '82. In 1983, he did an extended tour of the East Coast of Canada with renowned saxophonist Pat LaBarbera, and for eight years from 1983 to 1991 played in a quartet with legendary jazz guitarist Ed Bickert, working frequently in and around the Toronto area, and producing two recordings on the Concord label.

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 1004 to 1996, Lofsky was a member of the Oscar Peterson Quartet, performing at Carnegie Hall in New York, the Montreal Internatinal Jazz Festival, Sao Paolo, Brazil, and numerous concerts throughout Europe. Lofsky was featured on three of Oscar Peterson’s recordings, one of them a double CD recorded live in Paris.

As an educator, Lorne Lofsky has taught jazz guitar and improvisation clinics across Canada. He has been a jazz instructor at York University in Toronto since the late 70's, and taught for several years on the faculty at the University of Toronto. He also has a thriving private teaching practice, and continues to perform in the Toronto area where he remains a mainstay of the jazz scene.