Tony Coe

About Tony Coe

An adventurous and flexible improviser, Tony Coe was one of England's top jazzmen. He performed in settings ranging from straight-ahead bop and borderline Dixieland to post-bop and free, keeping his own strong musical personality intact throughout his career. Coe started on clarinet and was self-taught on tenor. He performed in an Army band between 1953 and 1956 and played with Humphrey Lyttelton's mainstream group between 1957 and 1962. After heading his own band (1962-1964), Coe was offered a spot with Count Basie's Orchestra, but difficulties with immigration foiled that opportunity. Coe's versatility was clearly in evidence by the late '60s. In addition to playing with John Dankworth's big band (1966-1969) and the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Orchestra (1967-1973), he also worked with Derek Bailey's very avant-garde Company, Stan Tracey, and several of his own groups. Associations with the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble and with the Mike Gibbs big band were also beneficial. Coe, whose tenor was well-featured during Henry Mancini's Pink Panther films, also wrote advanced works for orchestras. In 1995, he won the Danish Jazzpar Prize. Influenced most by Paul Gonsalves on tenor, in addition to being a very fluent clarinetist, Coe led sessions for a variety of European labels. Tony Coe died on March 16, 2023 in Canterbury, England at the age of 88. ~ Scott Yanow

Canterbury, England
November 29, 1934
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