British jazz lost one of its understated greats as saxophonist and clarinetist Tony Coe died peacefully at 88.
A Lasting Influence
Tony Coe left a lasting impact on many musicians who had the opportunity to learn from him, such as Tim Garland. In a tribute shared on Facebook, Garland reminisced about his experience as a young clarinet player and the influence Coe had on his musical journey. Describing Coe’s approach to improvisation as “eccentric, sophisticated, and un-conformist,” Garland credited Coe with shaping his unique sound, which resembles Paul Gonsalves, Ellington’s iconic tenor player.
Garland’s fond memories of listening to Tony Coe’s “Tournee Du Chat” and “Canterbury Song” highlight the power of Coe’s music to inspire and create a sense of identity for young musicians.
The Evolution of a Career
Coe’s prolific career saw him perform with various ensembles, including the trio featuring Malcolm Creese and John Horler. This group would later evolve into Acoustic Triangle when Garland took over the reins. As Garland continued to refer to Coe throughout his career, it is clear that Coe’s influence on the jazz community was both significant and enduring.
One of Coe’s most notable performances can be found on Norma Winstone’s album, “Somewhere Called Home.” The album features a trio with John Taylor on piano, showcasing each musician’s ability to lift and support each other’s sound to perfection. In addition, Coe’s sublime clarinet playing on Egberto Gismonti’s “Café” from the same album is a testament to his instrument mastery.
A Legacy of Beauty, Grace, and Etiquette
Tony Coe’s remarkable talent and unique voice in jazz will undoubtedly be missed. His quiet, generous demeanor and graceful presence onstage left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those who had the privilege of witnessing his performances. Coe’s music embodied beauty, grace, and etiquette – qualities that are fondly remembered by many and will continue to inspire future generations of musicians.
Anthony George Coe. Born 29 November 1934. Died 16 March 2023.