Tony Coe

Anthony George Coe (born 29 November 1934) is an English jazz musician who plays clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, and soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones.

Tony Coe
Birth nameAnthony George Coe
Born (1934-11-29) 29 November 1934
Canterbury, England
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
InstrumentsClarinet, saxophones
Years active1950s–present
LabelsStoryville, Hep, Hathut
Associated actsThe Lonely Bears, The Melody Four


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')[1] 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[2] 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.

Awards and honors

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 classical music. He received an honorary degree and the Danish Jazzpar Prize (1995).


As leader

  • Tony's Basement with the Lansdowne String Quartet (Columbia, 1967)
  • Sax with Sex (Metronome, 1968)
  • Pop Makes Progress with Robert Farnon (Chapter One, 1970)
  • With Brian Lemon Trio (77 Records, 1971)
  • Zeitgeist: Based on Poems of Jill Robin (EMI, 1977)
  • Coe-Existence (Lee Lambert, 1978)
  • Time with Derek Bailey (Incus, 1979)
  • Get It Together with Al Grey (Pizza Express, 1979)
  • Tournee Du Chat (Nato, 1983)
  • Le Chat Se Retourne (Nato, 1984)
  • Mainly Mancini (Chabada, 1985)
  • Mer De Chine (Nato, 1988)
  • Canterbury Song (Hot House, 1989)
  • Les Voix D'Itxassou (Nato, 1990)
  • Les Sources Bleues with Tony Hymas, Chris Laurence (Nato, 1991)
  • Captain Coe's Famous Racearound with Bob Brookmeyer (Storyville, 1996)
  • In Concert with John Horler, Malcolm Creese (ABCDs, 1997)
  • Jazz Piquant N'oublie Jamais with Tina May (Doz, 1998)
  • Days of Wine and Roses with Alan Barnes (Zephyr, 1998)
  • Street of Dreams with Warren Vaché (Zephyr, 1999)
  • Jumpin with Warren Vaché, Alan Barnes (Zephyr, 1999)
  • Sun, Moon, and Stars with Alan Hacker (Zah Zah, 1999)
  • British-American Blue with Roger Kellaway (Between the Lines, 2000)
  • Dreams with Gerard Presencer, Brian Lemon, Dave Green (Zephyr, 2001)
  • What in the World with Richard Sinclair, David Rees Williams (Sinclair Songs, 2003)
  • More Than You Know with Tina May, Nikki Iles (33 Records, 2004)

As sideman

With Steve Beresford

  • 1985 Eleven Songs for Doris Day (Chabada)
  • 1988 L'Extraordinaire Jardin De Charles Trenet (Chabada)
  • 1989 Pentimento (Cinenato)
  • 1996 Cue Sheets (Tzadik)

With the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band (MPS)

With Georgie Fame

  • 1966 Sound Venture (Columbia)
  • 1967 The Two Faces of Fame (CBS)
  • 1968 The Third Face of Fame (CBS)

With Tony Hymas

  • 1988 Flying Fortress (Nato)
  • 1990 Oyate (Nato)
  • 1995 Remake of the American Dream

With Franz Koglmann

  • 1990 A White Line (hatART)
  • 1991 The Use of Memory (hatART)
  • 1991 L'Heure Bleue (hatART)
  • 1993 Cantos I-IV (hatART)
  • 1995 We Thought About Duke with Lee Konitz (hatART)
  • 1998 Make Believe
  • 1999 An Affair With Strauss (Between the Lines)
  • 2001 Don't Play Just Be (Between the Lines)
  • 2001 O Moon My Pin-Up (hatOLOGY)
  • 2003 Fear Death by Water (Between the Lines)
  • 2005 Let's Make Love (Between the Lines)
  • 2009 Lo-Lee-Ta: Music on Nabokov

With Humphrey Lyttelton

  • 1957 Here's Humph! (Parlophone)
  • 1960 Blues in the Night (Columbia)
  • 1965 Humphrey Lyttelton and His Band
  • 1971 Duke Ellington Classics (Black Lion)
  • 2001 The Humphrey Lyttelton Big Band with Jimmy Rushing
  • 2002 Humph Bruce & Sandy Swing at the BBC
  • 2003 A Night in Oxford Street
  • 2005 Humph Dedicates (Vocalion)
  • 2013 Live at the Nottingham Jazz Festival 1972 (Calligraph)

With Mike McGear

  • 1972 Woman
  • 1974 McGear (Warner Bros.)

With Norma Winstone

  • 1986 Somewhere Called Home
  • 1998 Manhattan in the Rain

With others


  1. Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia (London: Penguin, 2005), p. 120.
  2. Liner notes of the Columbia 12-inch single 44-03019.
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