Remembering Tony Coe (1934-2023): A Tribute to a British Jazz Legend

jazz tribute

Tony Coe

Tony Coe Performing

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of one of the unsung heroes of British jazz, saxophonist and clarinetist Tony Coe. He passed away peacefully at the age of 88, leaving behind a legacy of unique musical talent and inspiration.

A Personal Tribute from Tim Garland

The following tribute from Tim Garland’s Facebook page is re-published with his permission:

“Here is to my very first teacher, who lived round the corner from me when I swapped clarinet for the saxophone, down in Canterbury. I remember being in a wine bar age 14 (!) playing the clarinet very badly, and he walked in. I was SO embarrassed to be playing in front of him but his odd-ball friendliness put me at ease. He had a singular approach to improv, eccentric, sophisticated and un-conformist! The first year I worked with Chick he pointed out that the wide intervals and altissimo register I used sounded a little like Paul Gonsalves, Ellington’s iconic tenor player. I knew though that it was Tony, who spoke in terms of leaping intervals, that had been the abiding influence. I remember listening to Tournee Du Chat (from the 1980’s?) and realising just HOW different, and separating, my musical interest was to the kids around me! “Canterbury Song” was so special as that was my home city and reminded me of my embryonic career. Tony was in the trio with Malcolm Creese and John Horler, before that concept morphed into Acoustic Triangle and I took over. I never stopped referring to Tony and I know there will be loads of anecdotes from friends in our jazz community. I looked up to him as a 14-year-old lad, amazed at what he could do. Maybe the best Tony I ever heard was on Norma’s album Somewhere Called Home. The trio with John Taylor on piano – has all three artists accommodating/lifting each other to perfection. Tony, here’s to the nights I would stay up to listen to Jazz Today, and hear a voice I knew I’d never forget. RIP Tony Coe.”

Personal Memories and Lasting Impact

Many fans and fellow musicians have fond memories of Tony Coe’s performances and contributions to the jazz community. One such memory comes from a review of a concert with Tina May and Nikki Iles in 2009:

“Tony Coe – JazzPar winner in the days when it was Europe’s top jazz prize- is one of the unique voices of world jazz. Coe is quiet, generous. His hand gestures as he handed back responsibility for the melodic line to the ladies… had an eighteenth-century Watteau or Claude grace about them. Ellington’s “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me” , a duet with May, Coe on clarinet scarcely rising from the chalumeau (lower) register, was special. Beauty, grace, etiquette, maybe they’re due for a return….”

In remembrance of Tony Coe, fans and friends alike are revisiting some of his most iconic works, such as his exquisite clarinet playing on Egberto Gismonti’s “Café” from the 1987 ECM album ‘Somewhere called Home’ with Norma Winstone and John Taylor.

Celebrating the Life and Music of Tony Coe

Anthony George Coe was born on November 29, 1934, and passed away on March 16, 2023. As we mourn the loss of this incredible jazz musician, let us also celebrate his life and the profound impact he had on the world of jazz.

To further explore the works of Tony Coe, please visit the following resources:

About Me

I’m Dr. Miles Beaumont from the charming town of York in the UK. I’ve spent over three decades as a medical doctor, helping people and contributing to important research. I graduated from Oxford University, and ever since, I’ve devoted myself to improving the health and lives of others.

When I’m not practicing medicine, you’ll find me soaking up the world of jazz music. It’s been a passion of mine since I turned 30, and I’ve been an active part of York’s jazz scene ever since. Whether it’s going to local gigs, listening to records at home, or just enjoying the rhythmic and improvisational magic of jazz, it’s a big part of who I am.