Over the years the guitar has earned a unique position in the annals of jazz. At times strident, ear-splitting and generally distasteful, at others one of the loveliest, most amiable and pleasing instruments in any circumstance, especially when placed in the capable hands of a master such as Canada's Lorne Lofsky
. This is the guitar as it should be played, smooth and mellow but never without due diligence or an emphatic purpose in mind. The quartet date This Song Is New
, Lofsky's first recording as a leader in more than twenty years, pairs five of his original compositions ("every once in a while I kind of go on this 'mini-binge' and feel inspired to write something," he explains), with a brace of jazz standards, Miles Davis
& Victor Feldman
's "Seven Steps to Heaven" and Benny Golson
's "Stable Mates."
Speaking of stable mates, Lofsky has chosen his with great care: tenor saxophonist Kirk MacDonald
, bassist Kieran Overs
and drummer Barry Romberg
, three of Canada's best. When you have played or recorded with Oscar Peterson
, Chet Baker
, Pat LaBarbera
, Ray Brown
, Joey DeFrancesco
, fellow guitarist Ed Bickert
and many other jazz luminaries, as Lofsky has, the best tend to lean toward your orbit. MacDonald makes his presence known from the outset, carrying the melody on "Seven Steps" (and most other tunes) while soloing with his usual fluency and perception. Lofsky, for his part, is more laid-back but no less eloquent, while Overs and Romberg handily navigate the rhythmic currents and solo adeptly when called upon.
MacDonald does step aside for a moment on Lofsky's animated "Live from the Apollo," entering after the trio has set the scene and delivering another robust solo before trading eights with Lofsky and Romberg. "This Song Is New," which follows, is an even-tempered ballad, preceding the slightly more breezy "Alterior Motif," wherein Lofsky and MacDonald map out a lustrous and lyrical design. Earnest grooving is the order of the day on "Evans from Lennie," the last of Lofsky's originals, before "Stable Mates," taken at an unusually slow yet nonetheless effective pace, rings down the curtain.
Even though the album's pilot light is set for the most part on low, This Song Is New
displays an abundance of warmth, thanks broadly to the singular talents of Lofsky, MacDonald, Overs and Romberg. As icing on the cake, the courtly session adds liberal measures of tastefulness and charm to outweigh its forty-three-minute playing time.
Seven Steps; The Time Being; Live from the Apollo; This Song Is New; An Alterior Motif;
Evans from Lennie; Stable Mates.