Canada’s improvised music scene frequently occupies a limbo between the government supported arts scenes of Europe, and the large commercial entertainment markets of the United States. That phenomenon is one of several reasons why it’s exciting to see the Canadian Jazz Collective gather success representing our fair nation locally and abroad.
Kirk MacDonald, Derrick Gardner and Virginia MacDonald are the lead voices of this formidable septet, with guitarist Lorne Lofsky contributing to both the melodic and harmonic sides of the ensemble. In the liner notes to Septology, The Black Forest Session, Lofsky mentions a 40-year history with several members of the group, namely bassist Neil Swainson and pianist Brian Dickinson, who round out the rhythm section alongside Austrian drummer Bernd Reiter.
Septology’s eight original tracks are penned by Gardner, Lofsky and MacDonald respectively, and feature a beautiful blend of individualism and group interplay. Dig That! is a hard swinging opening track that prepares the listener for what’s to come: a steadfast commitment to the roots of this music, approached in a manner that eschews any notion of traditionalism or conservatism.
The Time Being is a contemplative piece penned by Lofsky. This writer knows the guitarist’s other two offerings Waltz You Needn’t and Highway 9 from his 1992 self-titled album, and they’re cleverly reworked here for septet. Kirk MacDonald contributes two originals to the recording that fit the collective’s aesthetic beautifully, notably his arrangement of Shadows that keeps the rhythm section on their toes under contrapuntal horn lines.
Alongside exploring this album at home, I have encountered it several times on local Toronto radio. Septology is receiving ample well-deserved attention, and with a second European tour approaching, this is definitely not the last you’ll be hearing of the Canadian Jazz Collective!