Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Take Five with Tony Kofi

Tony Kofi By

Sign in to view read count
About Tony Kofi

A two-time winner of the BBC Jazz Awards among others—Tony Kofi is a British Jazz multi-instrumentalist born of Ghanaian parents who plays alto, baritone, soprano, tenor Saxophone and flute. He cut his teeth in the Jazz Warriors of the early '90s, and went on to establish himself as a musician, teacher and composer of some authority. Tony's playing has been a feature of many bands and artists he has worked/recorded with include The World Saxophone Quartet, Donald Byrd, Eddie Henderson, The David Murray Big Band, Abdullah Ibrahim, Macy Gray, Harry Connick, Jr., Jamaaladeen Tacuma's Coltrane Configurations and Ornette Coleman.


Alto, soprano, baritone and tenor saxophones; flute, and percussion.

Teachers and/or influences?

I am self-taught.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

My music teacher at school told me at 15 I'd never be a musician because it takes focus, dedication and practice. Hmmmm!

Your sound and approach to music.

My sound and approach to music is to tell the truth no matter what, I've always believed that music is synonymous to life; you express yourself every day around family and friends so why not do that in music to the people listening to you? They deserve to hear your story too.

Your teaching approach

For me it's all about patience, students all have different learning levels and capabilities for retaining information, so you can't rush them. If they love it and show enough interest then you can teach then anything.

Your dream band

I don't have a dream band in particular, all of the musicians I've had the privilege of working with in the past have been a dream come true. Sam Rivers, Andrew Hill, The World Saxophone Quartet and Ornette Coleman have been dreams that all came true as well as the many UK musicians I'm currently working with. I'd love to work with Wayne Shorter, now that would be something

Road story: Your best or worst experience

Hmmmm! Worst experience (cringe) was we were in Budapest, last day of a very long tour and I think I had one too many to drink the night before, I overslept and had five minutes to pack a big suitcase for the airport, of course everyone that morning missed their flights home and all eyes were on me. Best experience was getting asked to sit in as a dep in the World Saxophone Quartet and being given the job right there and then on stage. "And on alto and soprano saxophone, the newest member of the world saxophone quartet is... drum roll please... Tony Kofi" That was the icing on the cake for me.

Favorite venue

Ronnie Scott's, 606 Jazz Club, Vortex Jazz Club. I've been playing here for many years and they treat musicians with great respect.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

I think it has to be my composition "First Breath." I wrote it for my son Mingus who was born at seven months and watching him at first struggle to breathe and then finally seeing him take his first breath really inspired me to write most of my music based on life events.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

Well first of all I'm leaving something for the next generation and other generations to come. Music is like a blueprint for learning something unique about a certain musician. What musician like Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Joe Henderson, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Max Roach left as well as many others is an invaluable gift. That's why I believe in sharing what I've been blessed with, because you surely can't take it with you.

Did you know...

I've been an avid chess player since I was 10 years old; I play it every day, with people I know and don't know. I just love how it allows you to map things out in your mind even before you make your move.

The first jazz album I bought was:

Although not a hard core jazz album, I love the mood of Grover Washington's Winelight, which set me up for what was to come.

Music you are listening to now:

Oliver Nelson: Blues in the Abstract Truth (Impulse!)—A genius album with a list of the greatest jazz musicians to walk this planet.

Desert Island picks:

Charlie Parker Charlie Parker with Strings (Verve)—I never get tired of listening to this album, it's beautifully recorded and you can really feel Bird's soul speaking to you.

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

I think jazz has evolved and taken on new dimensions. It's a lot more diverse and appeals to all ages now so that is a plus for me. Isn't this how jazz started in the first place? It'll keep on evolving and changing and who knows, it may come full circle again a hundred years from now.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?



comments powered by Disqus

Album Reviews
Take Five With...
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Point Blank

Point Blank

The Last Music Company

The Silent Truth

The Silent Truth

Specific Jazz

Future Passed

Future Passed

Specific Jazz

Plays Monk (All Is Know)

Plays Monk (All Is...

Specific Jazz


Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Tony Kofi Sextet: A Portrait Of Cannonball
Crookes Social Club
Sheffield, UK
Mingus Profiles Sextet
Crookes Social Club
Sheffield, UK
Alina Bzhezhinska Inspiration Quartet
Hull Truck Theatre
Hull, UK


Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Take Five With...
Take Five with Black Tie Brass
By Ryan McNulty
February 7, 2019
Take Five With...
Take Five with Florian Ross
By Florian Ross
February 6, 2019
Take Five With...
Take Five with Christoph Irniger
By Christoph Irniger
February 5, 2019
Take Five With...
Take Five with Kenney Polson
By Kenney Polson
January 15, 2019
Take Five With...
Take Five with Jacopo Penzo
By Jacopo Penzo
January 10, 2019
Take Five With...
Take Five with David Hall
By David Hall
January 9, 2019
Take Five With...
Take Five with Charu Suri
By Charu Suri
January 4, 2019