Photograph copyright Peter Symes
The playing career of saxophonist Tony Kofi began when he chanced upon a series of jazz workshops, run in Leicester by Nick Hislam. Born in Nottingham to West African parents, Tony was bitten by the jazz bug and made a point of making the journey to go along to each session. This laid the seeds for what was to come, and a stint at the legendary Berklee College of Music in Boston Mass. USA, on a full scholarship. While in the US, Tony studied with such musical luminaries as Andy Magee, Ernie Watts and Billy pierce, gaining invaluable experience that he then put to best use when back in the UK. From 1991, Tony was part of the UK's premier jazz group of the time The Jazz Warriors. This band was (and, indeed, is, in its current form of Tomorrow's Warriors) a hotbed of young talent from the UK jazz scene. Tony was also vital part of Gary Crosby's Nu Troop; this was a big stepping stone for his solo and ensemble work, contributing massively to his own solo projects and educational projects. Tony is still committed to this ethos, regularly running his own workshops and giving individual lessons. Tony was busy throughout the 1990s, appearing in the front line of innumerable high-profile musicians and groups, including Billy Higgins, Branford Marsalis, Byron Wallen's Indigo, Claude Deppa's A.J.E. & Horns Unlimited , Cheikh Tidiane Fall quintet, Clifford Jarvis, Courtney Pine , Digable Planets, Donald Byrd , Dr Lonnie Smith, Eddie Henderson , Gary Crosby's Nu-Troop, Jean Toussaint big band, Julian Arguelles, Julian Joseph big band, Jazz Jamaica all stars, Queen Latifah , Ralph Moore, Salt'n'Pepper, The David Murray Big Band, US-3, The Township Express Orchestra, Tim Richards' Great Spirit, The Grand Union orchestra, Andrew Hill's Anglo-American Big band, Sam Rivers Rivbea orchestra, and Lucky Ranku's African jazz all stars, as well as composing original music for his Ten piece group, the Afro jazz family, The Tony Kofi Trio, and more recently touring with the World Saxophone Quartet. Since 2000, Tony Kofi, Jonathan Gee, Ben Hazleton & Winston Clifford, with featured artist, Orphy Robinson (Vibes & Marimba) have been building their repertoire of Thelonious Monk compositions, all 70 of which were performed in a groundbreaking marathon 6 hour set at the 2003 London Jazz festival with composer Philip Clark composing original Monk inspired music. The quartet's album, All is know (Specific Jazz), features a selection of Monk originals including string arrangements by composer Philip Clark. The group's CD picked up the 2005 Jazz Parliamentary award and the 2005 BBC Jazz award for best ensemble & best album. Tony has just completed his next album for Specific Jazz, which includes all his own original compositions. The TonyKofi Trio +1 is a newly formed original project by the double award winning Saxophonist/Composer, featuring Byron Wallen on Trumpet, Anders Olinder on B3 Hammond Organ and Winston Clifford on Drums. The group also augments into a six piece as you'll hear on his forthcoming album titled Future Passed, also featuring Robert Fordjour (Drums) Cameron Pierre (Guitar) and Donald Gamble (Percussion). The Idea was born when Tony was on a world tour with jazz hip hop group US3 back in 1994 at the mount Fuji Jazz festival in Japan, when Tony saw the Lou Donaldson (Alto Saxophone)/Dr Lonnie Smith (B3 Hammond Organ group in rehearsal and performance, and was touched by the sound of the Hammond Organ, how soulful, Moody, bluesy, sad and happy the sound of the Organ could made you feel. A chance also came when US3 was asked to record a one off project with Dr Lonnie Smith in London in that same year, it was a dream come true, and that wonderful experience has never left him. So when Tony met Anders in 2001 and saw how he approached the B3 Hammond Organ with the same feeling he'd heard it back in 94, it was only a matter of time before he set his mind at composing music around the sound of the Organ, and finding the right musicians to complete the sound and feeling he was looking for to recreate the fresh sounds of yesterdays for today's listener. With these compositions you get to hear the blues, Gospel, Jazz, funk, Latin, African rhythms, Be bop and many more. The album will take you on a historical musical journey, a journey of his own life experience, Future passed.
taken from: http://www.myspace.com/tonykofi