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    welcome to the website of Bruce Lofgren, composer and guitarist and leader of the Bruce Lofgren Jazz OrchestraBiography header


Bruce Lofgren, composer/guitarist
PO Box 92733
Pasadena, CA 91109

BA University of Washington
English Literature and Science

Photo of Bruce with guitar

"Bruce Lofgren compositions are unique and compelling and transcend several music genres including Latin, new age, jazz, blues, classical, and pop, portending great emotional complexities while remaining grounded in the process of discovery."--rj crane

Bruce Lofgren is featured in the book The Great Jazz Guitarists: The Ultimate Guide by Scott Yanow (Backbeat Books / Hal Leonard Corporation) 2013, p. 122.



Bruce Lofgren has composed and/or arranged and produced eight CDs which are currently available: Wind and Sand (Night Bird), Southwest Portals (Night Bird), The Bruce Lofgren Jazz Trio (Sea Breeze), Eventide (Sea Breeze), Red Shift (Sea Breeze), The Blues and Other Passions (Sea Breeze) and Heart of the Night (Sea Breeze) - all three with the BLJO, and Sky Sailor (Night Bird). You can find more information about these CDs and where you can buy them and read reviews for them on this web site.


BRUCE LOFGREN : The formative years

Bruce has had a varied career with its beginnings in Blues and Rock. He was influenced by artists and groups that were popular when he began forming early musical impressions growing up in Seattle: Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, B. B. King, and Billy Butler (guitarist with the Bill Doggett Combo).

But there were other influential people who also played significant roles in the progression of Bruce's musical development, such as his parents; both singers and piano players who exposed their son to music at a very early age and later paid for his guitar lessons. Then there was Bruce's friend, Dan Olason, (a talented and accomplished guitarist at age 12), whose friendship resulted in Bruce buying his first guitar with his own hard-earned money: a brand new Sears-Roebuck blue and white Silvertone.

There were two significant guitar instructors: Don Alexander, a patient, semi-retired pro, who taught Bruce how to read music, insisting this was an essential ingredient for learning how to play and who also filled his imagination with stories of great jazz guitarists of the past; and Al Turay, a gifted and talented jazz guitarist and music educator, who owned a private guitar studio in Seattle and taught Bruce the more advanced disciplines of music/guitar theory, and jazz harmony while he was a student at the University of Washington.


BRUCE LOFGREN: Early rock 'n roller/blues artist

Baron Blues Band

Barons Blues Band
(Front row from left to right: Al Scanzon, Tenor Sax, Bruce Lofgren, guitar, and Randy Espeseth. Back row: Mike Fridgen, Hammond B3)

Bruce Lofgren's future career as a guitarist and composer first began to emerge when he formed his garage band the Vegas, who recorded his first composition, Ambush, when he was only 17. By the time he left the Seattle area for California in 1970, his musical experiences and accomplishments also included leading the Barons Blues Band, house band at the popular St. Michael's Alley (a weekend dance hangout) from 1964-66; player and arranger for the locally popular Pacific Northwest Territory Band for which he wrote over fifty musical arrangements; private guitar instructor at the Al Turay Guitar Studio (1967-70); and student of big band arranging with composer/arranger Ralph Mutchler. It was also in the Pacific Northwest where Bruce discovered jazz upon finding a Tal Farlow album in a local record store and subsequently hearing the Barney Kessel Quartet play at The Cellar, a Vancouver, B.C. jazz night spot. From that point on Bruce was passsionately consumed with the language of jazz--a language of a higher plane, exciting and free like the blues, but with a much larger variety of moods and feelings.


BRUCE LOFGREN : Pre-jazz orchestra days

When Bruce arrived in CA he found work playing with local latin bands in East L.A., but then took a gig with a travelling show called Brother Love (later Pratt & McClain of Happy Days). Lofgren and his new friend, bassist Brian Vidor (later owner of Typhoon Restaurant in Santa Monica) worked Las Vegas, Tahoe, Miami and Hawaii with that band for almost a year.

Early BLJO trumpet sectionWhile in Las Vegas, Bruce hooked up with Ray Anthony, whose dazzling 10-piece show band (and Bookend Review) was headlining at the lounge of the Frontier Hotel along with Brother Love. Bruce brought some of his original charts to one of Ray's rehearsals which led to him and Ray making plans to cut an LP of Lofgren jazz-rock originals. After a year on tour with Ray's band, and with the album project finished, Bruce decided to settle in Los Angeles. In late 1972 Bruce began to make contact with other L.A. based players and organized some rehearsals in the club rooms of Local #47. You can find more information about the Bruce Lofgren Jazz Orchestra including its early history on this web site.

(Pictured above: Early BLJO trumpet section with Ron King, Roy Poper and Mike Artega)


BRUCE LOFGREN: A few notable earlier guitar credits

As the BLJO was in its developmental stages, Bruce began working more frequently in the L.A. jazz and pop scene, scoring gigs with such notable and influential artists as: Bobby Darin, Percy Faith Orchestra, Pat Upton and the Spiral Starecase, Brazilian percussionist Airto Morierra, and singer, Flora Purim. This expanded his knowledge of Brazilian music and odd meters.

As a guitarist Lofgren also gigged with Tony Rizzi and his Five Guitars plus Four, a unique and challenging group which performed the music of Charlie Christian harmonized for five guitars. In this group were such great players as: Tony Rizzi, Jimmy Wyble, Pete Christlieb, Grant Geissman, Tim May, Tom Ranier, and Jeff Hamilton, Tommy Tedesco, and Steve Carnelli.

BRUCE LOFGREN: A few notable composing and arranging credits

Beginning in 1976 Bruce studied Orchestration privately for two years with Dr. Albert Harris, the great English composer and arranger. From the mid 70's Lofgren was constantly composing his own works for jazz orchestra as well as arranging music for other artists. He wrote for The Osmonds, Donny and Marie Show, Doc Severinson's Tonight Show Orchestra, Loggins and Messina and Donna Summer. He had his jazz/rock composition Three Day Suckers recorded by the Buddy Rich Orchestra on the successful album Big Band Machine. Lofgren received a gold record for work done on the CBS project Native Sons by Loggins and Messina, a gold single for arranging Yes, I'm Ready for Teri De Sario (produced by K.C. and the Sunshine Band). He wrote two arrangements for Donna Summer on the platinum album Live and More, and co-wrote the theme for the syndicated T.V. show Johnny Carson's Comedy Classics. He has composed music for many industrial films and hundreds of radio and T.V. commercials. Songwriter Lofgren also penned a song to honor Kirk Douglas at an LAUSD ribbon cutting ceremony with Kirk Douglas. Lofgren arranged music for Keith Emerson's guest appearance at the Led Zeppelin reunion concert at London's O2 Stadium.

You can view a complete list of Bruce's composing, arranging, and live performance credits on this web site. You can read a review and view photos of the LAUSD ribbon cutting ceremony with Kirk Douglas.

  BRUCE LOFGREN: The composer and guitarist today

"First, the music has to please me. Writing has always been a passionate thing for me. If a germinal idea, when it occurs, doesn't bring some kind of heightened emotional awareness, I probably won't follow through with it, research it or explore its possibilities. But if it does bring an emotional response, then I will want to explore it to give it a chance to show its's partly intellectual, partly hard work and partly excitement at the vistas around each turn."--From an interview with Bruce Lofgren that appeared in the LA Jazz Scene, May 2001, issue No. 165, pp. 3-4, by Myrna Daniels