Canadian Jazz Collective Feat. Kirk MacDonald, Lorne Lofsky & Derrick Gardner ‘Septology: The Black Forest Session’ LP/CD (HGBS Blue) 4/5

8TH MAY 2023
by Alan Musson


The Collective are a relatively recently formed seven-piece ensemble made up of established and award-winning musicians who take a collaborative approach to their music-making. They consist of Kirk MacDonald (saxophonist/composer); Derrick Gardner (trumpet/composer); Lorne Lofsky (guitarist/composer); Virginia MacDonald (clarinet); Brian Dickinson (piano); bassist Neil Swainson; and Bernt Reiter (drums). Their intention was to “showcase their virtuosic, world-class artistry and original compositions”.

During a European tour in 2022, the group recorded their inaugural performance album at the famed MPS Studios in Villingen in the Black Forrest, a studio known for the many recordings by fellow Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson recorded in the 1960s. The album is available on CD and through all digital platforms. The album consists of six original compositions which come from within the septet. Key to the album is the sense of swing which is evident from the opening bars of ‘Dig That!’ with Gardner, as the theme’s, composer, taking a vigorous solo, but with the MacDonald father and daughter team not to be outdone with their respective contributions. This has the feel of the best of Blue Note’s output. ‘Silent Voices’ is rather more reflective as a memorial for “people who are no longer with us”. ‘Waltz You Needn’t’ is Lofsky’s nod towards the genius of Thelonious Monk. Harmonies shine though on ‘Shadows’.

It is apparent that a deep rapport has been built up over the years by these musicians playing together in various combinations, allowing a relaxed confidence to shine through in this recording. In addition to the formats mentioned above, there is a collector-edition vinyl LP, while the digital and CD versions include two bonus tracks from Lofsky and Gardner. The icing on the turntable is the chance to catch the group live on their only UK tour date at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club on 13 May. The last time they appeared there they played to a capacity audience, and that was even before this album was recorded. So, as they say, to avoid disappointment get your tickets now, folks! In fact, I think the best way to experience this music is in a live setting, but of course, if that is not possible beg, steal or borrow a copy elsewhere right now. I’m sure that you won’t be disappointed.