Watching Lorne Lofsky playing duo with Roddy Ellias is kind of like watching two master chess players going back and forth, equally matched in skill, completely different in style. The guitarists sat across from each other in a centre corner of Mezzetta, a cozy bar and tapas restaurant whose sangria and coffee come strongly recommend.
Fans were in abundance, and they reveled in one highlight after another. The guitarists were met with boisterous applause in between every number.
Lorne and Roddy’s intimate performance included moments where the time was so swinging that you could almost feel the pulse of a drummer's cymbal. At other points, the musicians seemed to deliberately lose time, entering abstraction, the way a saxophonist might do if they were playing unaccompanied. During the duo's version of the Miles Davis tune "Solar", both guitarists dropped out, nearly entirely, for a few short bars, occasionally accenting the silence with a quick note or chord. The negative space found a willing audience who kept time during the experiment.
Each guitarist has a distinct tone, so much so that it was easy to differentiate the two players with eyes closed. Both use the human sound of finger picking with Lorne incorporating the thumb pick into his approach as well. It is clear that both guitarists have been influenced by players such as Ed Bickert and Lenny Breau, and as a result have certain harmonic and melodic vocabulary. But make no mistake - Lorne and Roddy are evolving the form.
Be sure to check out some of the other intimate duo shows happening at Mezzetta as part of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival.