Canadian Jazz Collective – Septology: The Black Forest Sessions
Six tunes played with panache and gusto by a septet that had been put together for this recording.
HGBS Blue Records
Derrick Gardner: trumpet, flugelhorn; Lorne Lofsky: guitar; Kirk MacDonald: tenor saxophone; Virginia MacDonald: clarinet; Brian Dickinson: piano; Neil Swainston: bass; Bernd Reiter: drums
Recorded 8th May 2022 by Marcus Zierle at Most Perfect Sound Studio, Villingen.
Six tunes (two apiece from Gardner, Lofsky and Kirk MacDonald) played with panache and gusto by a septet that had been put together for this recording. During a tour of Europe (which included a well-received gig at Ronnie Scott’s) the septet arrived at the MPS Studio (where another Canadian legend, Oscar Peterson cut a series of recordings in the mid to late ‘60s).
Ironically, Lofsky had played in Peterson’s quartet in the ‘90s, so felt that this gave the recording a ‘delayed synchronicity’ and his playing career has also extended far enough for most of the players on this set to have been band-mates of his at one time or another.
I like the phrase ‘delayed synchronicity’ as an entrée to the music here. Combining three stalwarts of the Canadian jazz scene was always going to produce something strong and special. And finding the route through their various playing and composing styles required either an eclectic, rag-bag approach or the approach taken here which seems to be to transport the septet to a point in the late 1950s where Swing and bop were tussling over the jazz audiences of the day.
‘Synchronicity’, indeed, with the carefully constructed compositions sounding as if they would be equally content to be played in Big Bands, orchestrated with swing and a space for solos. But also, where the compositions have a contemporary sense of irony, in the references to bop and post-bop, and a willingness of the septet to follow the soloists rather than peg them back.
This is not simply a recording of musicians in their prime enjoying their music: Gardner’s fierce solo on the opener ‘Dig that!’ and Lofsky’s re-take on his tune ‘Waltz you needn’t’, track 3, are testament to their strength and vitality. There is also a sense on a baton being passed, with a spell-binding solo from Virginia MacDonald and interplay between her and her father on ‘Silent Voices’.
All in all, the idea of combining Gardner, Lofsky and MacDonald Sr. into a collective and surrounding them with accomplished musicians for a tour of Europe and a recording session in the Black Forest was inspired and the set is absolutely rewarding.
Reviewed by Chris Baber