Tony Coe

Tony Coe
Birth name Anthony George Coe
Born (1934-11-29) 29 November 1934
Origin Canterbury, England
Genres Bebop
Post bop
Hard bop
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Clarinet
Years active 1950s–present
Labels Storyville
Hep Records
Hathut Records
Associated acts The Lonely Bears; The Melody Four

Anthony George Coe (born 29 November 1934 in Canterbury) is an English composer[1] and jazz musician who plays clarinet, bass clarinet and tenor saxophone.

Coe began his performing career playing with Humphrey Lyttelton's band from 1957 to 1962. In 1965 he was invited to join Count Basie's band ('I'm glad it didn't come off – I would have lasted about a fortnight')[2] and has since played with the John Dankworth Orchestra, the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band, Derek Bailey's free improvisation group Company, Stan Tracey, Michael Gibbs, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie and Bob Brookmeyer, and performed under Pierre Boulez as well as leading a series of groups of his own, including Coe Oxley & Co with drummer Tony Oxley. He played clarinet on Paul McCartney's recording of "I'll Give You A Ring", released in 1982,[3] and saxophone on John Martyn's 1973 album Solid Air.

Coe has also worked with the Matrix, a small ensemble formed by clarinettist Alan Hacker, with a wide-ranging repertoire of early, classical and contemporary music, the Danish Radio Big Band, Metropole Orchestra and Skymasters in the Netherlands.

Coe has recorded on soundtracks for several films, including Superman II, Victor/Victoria, Nous irons tous au paradis, Leaving Las Vegas, Le Plus beau métier du monde and The Loss of Sexual Innocence. He also composed the film score for Camomille.

In 1975 a grant from the Arts Council enabled him to write Zeitgeist, a large-scale orchestral work fusing jazz and rock elements with techniques from European Art Music.

Among the awards Coe has received are an honorary D.Mus and the Danish Jazzpar Prize (1995, the first non-American to receive this prize).

One of Tony Coe's sons is radio broadcaster Gideon Coe.

Citing Paul Gonsalves as an influence, Coe is especially noted for his versatility.

"Tony Coe is one of the most remarkable and brilliant musicians in the world. The sheer range of his musical activity… …is staggering and testifies to an awe-inspiring instrumental mastery." Humphrey Lyttelton[4]
"Coe is a player of astonishing versatility and brilliance." Ian Carr[5]


With the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band


  1. Camomile (1988), composer
  2. Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia (London: Penguin, 2005), p. 120.
  3. Liner notes of the Columbia 12-inch single 44-03019.
  4. LP liner notes for "Coe-Existence", originally released on Lee Lambert, 1978, (8040180048272)
  5. Jazz: the Essential Companion, London, 1987 (ISBN 9780135092743)
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