Reviews

ZZCD 9802 – Ruby

Tony Coe Quartet

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Jazz Journal – September 98 Issue

Tony Coe has appeared in many diverse instrumental situations in his home country since the late 1950s, but there is little evidence in the current record lists of his high quality musicianship. This, therefore is a welcome new release, with Tony displaying all the talents expected of him – that Ellingtonian leaning to his tenor saxophone sound and the beautifully classical clarinet and soprano sound. The tunes are generally well-known standards which provide a good base for Tony’s improvisations and those of the equally talented pianist Brian Dee. Brian is another case of a brilliant musician who is too often hidden from public gaze.

Comparative newcomer Matt Miles does a workmanlike job on bass and Steve Arguelles remains mostly in the background with tasteful brushwork. A musically satisfying CD.
Al Merritt


Bath & West Life (Formerly Bath & West Country Life) – Summer 1998

This is a new jazz label, the first for Guild Music Limited of Jersey. Coe is one of that tiny group of British jazz musicians with a genuine international rating. He was invited to join the Count Basie Band over 30 years ago but declined the offer. In 1995 he became the first non American to win the Danish Jazzpar Prize.

Here we have a most enjoyable selection of standards bearing the leader’s trademark. Even the two originals, Some Other Autumn and Backward Tracings are re workings of Autumn Leaves and Yesterdays. The clarinet is still used rarely in post-forties idioms and Coe is widely recognised as a world leader in this category, Observe the evidence on Autumn and More Than You Know! Argüelles may seem to be an unusual choice of sideman in this context when considering his contemporary associations, Human Chains, ‘Argüelles’ and Dudu Pukwana. However, is brushwork is sensitive and the sticks are introduced mainly in solo breaks. A master of the wider art!

Pianist Brian Dee takes the anchor role, having remained constant to this early modern style through his work experience which includes such company as Bing Crosby and Peggy Lee.

The line-up is nicely completed by one of our rising stars. Matt Miles. who makes his early statement with a thoughtful bass solo on the opener.


Jazz Rag July/August 1998

Tony Coe’s career has led him with great success into many fields of experimental, classical and orchestral music. This outstanding CD finds him returning to playing standards – and playing them magnificently. The idea for this CD derived from a BT Awards concert at last year’s Birmingham Jazz Festival, when Brian Dee led the accompanying trio for Tony Coe.

The opener, With A Song In My Heart, sets the mood: Coe’s soprano slides conversationally into the normally dramatic opening phrase, then after re-shaping the melody for one chorus, falls back to prompt Matt Miles’ extended bass solo with little floating phrases before Brian Dee, playing with great rhythmic and melodic freedom throughout the session, takes over.

And so it goes on, through to the title track, oddly placed last, a film theme previously unknown to me, played with warmth of tone and melodic invention by Tony Coe on tenor. Among the stops along the way are a duo version of More Than You Know, Coe exploring the lower ranges of the clarinet with model restraint and beautiful tone, and Love Walked In a fine example of the interplay between Coe, Dee, Miles and drummer Steve Argüelles.
Ron Simpson


Musician – June 1998

Coe is a saxophonist and clarinettist of such phenomenal virtuosity and versatility that one is never quite sure what to expect from him except for music of the highest quality. This album is no exception. In Brian Priestley’s sleeve notes, Tony is quoted as saying “standards are our life’s blood” and the material chosen for this album reflects that.

Tony plays mostly soprano here as well as tenor and clarinet, which are to my care his strongest voices. The Accompanying trio plays a full role both as soloists and in the execution of imaginative arrangements that enhance rather than smother the melodies. Brian Dee’s Piano playing is elegant and bassist Matt Miles, both binds and propels the trio, allowing Steve Argüelles free reign for his textural percussion.

The highlight of the album for me is the gloriously literal reading of Vincent Youmans’ More Than You Know. So many of today’s jazz musicians play standards in a way that reduces them to an exercise in negotiating harmonic sequences. Here, Tony’s individuality shines through the most faithful reading of a tune that I have not heard for some time, without for a second leaving you in any doubt that you are listening to one of the jazz masters of our time.
Jim Tomlinson


The Herald Southam, Calgary, Canada – Saturday 13th June 1998

Coe shines as a composer and saxophonist and clarinettist, and he is known in his native Britain as a restless creative spirit who works best in undirected collective improvisation. (He is also known as the tenor sax soloist featured on the soundtrack of the Pink Panther movies.)

Here, he concentrates on playing standards from the Great American Songbooks, and shows why Count Basie, during a tour of England 30 years ago, asked him to join the band. He is equally skilled on clarinet, soprano and tenor sax, and he improvises like someone who knows how to write tunes, not just scales and chord-based riffs.

He is accompanied by pianist Brian Dee who has developed his chops playing behind some of the top jazz stars in the world at Ronnie Scott’s club in London. The bass of Matt Miles and the drums of Steve Argüelles make up the rest of the rhzthm. Selections include More Than You Know, Love Walked in, and eight others.

Overall Assessment – 4 Maple leaves out of 5


The Observer – Sunday, 15 March 1998

… and Jazz by Dave Gelly

One of the most complete musicians in contemporary jazz, Tony Coe commands an astonishing stylistic range from stomping swing to complete abstraction. He plays soprano and tenor saxophone and clarinet with typically deceptive candour on a selection of discreetly amended standards and original compositions.


Cadence Volume 25 No. 2 February 1999 (Page106)

Coe, whose influences include many 20th century European composers, decided to slightly tweak the chord progressions of many well-known cuts by Rogers, Arlen and Gershwin. “With A Song In My Heart” and “My Shinning Hour” are slightly altered, while the intros to other standards are more radically constructed (“I Didn’t Know What Time It Was”). Coe’s sax tones are slicing in their clarity, and have been heard in the ensembles of figures as diverse as Dizzy Gillespie, John Dankworth. Derek Bailey and Pierre Boulez (as well as the sax part in Mancini’s Pink Panther soundtracks). His breadth of experience certainly frees him from the tunnel vision often constricting the output of less adventurous Jazz musicians.
Dave McElfresh