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Tony Kofi
Tony Kofi

“Future Passed”

Irish Release Date 19 May '06
Specific Jazz - A Division of PROPER RECORDS
(Distributed By Gael Linn)

New album and new direction from this award winning saxophonist where he is joined by Organist Anders Olinder and Drummer Robert Fordjour.

Tony was inspired to record this album after seeing a Dr. Lonnie Smith gig where he was playing his Hammond B3.

All pieces are composed by Kofi and guesting on the album are Donald Gambale, Cameron Pierre and Byron Wallen.

For interview requests contact Stevo Berube at Berube Communications on (01) 476 3603 or 087 244 2695

Future Passed is the second album to be released on Specific Jazz by multi award winning saxophonist and composer Tony Kofi. Having won the award for Album of the Year at the 2005 BBC Jazz awards for his debut album, All is Know, and the 2005 Jazz Parliamentary award for Best Ensemble, expectation is high for Kofi’s latest project, which features Anders Olinder on B3 Hammond Organ and Robert Fordjour on drums.

The idea for Future Passed was born in 1994, when Kofi was taking part in the Fuji Jazz Festival with jazz hip hop group US3. After seeing a performance by the Lou Donaldson & Dr Lonnie Smith Group, he was immediately struck by the mix of emotions that flowed through him as he listened to the sound of the B3 Hammond Organ. Later that year, fate conspired to bring US3 and Dr Lonnie Smith together for a one off recording project, and the wonderful experience has remained with him ever since. So when Kofi met Anders Olinder in 2001 and saw how he approached the B3 Hammond Organ with the same feeling that he'd heard back in ‘94, it was only a matter of time before he set his mind to composing music around the sound of the Hammond Organ, and finding the right musicians to complete the sound he was looking for. Alongside Olinder & Fordjour, Kofi brought in some of the UK’s finest musicians in the form of Byron Wallen (Trumpet), Cameron Pierre (Guitar) and Donald Gamble (Percussion).

Track listing: The Journey / Suibokuga / Zambia / A Song For Pappa jack / As We Speak / Blue Pavel / The Eternal Thinker / Jubilation (For Bod) / Brotherhood / April 13th / This Dream Of Mine (For MJ) / We Out.

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“It’s said that some of the best vocations begin purely by accident or as an act of fate. In my case it was both. At age 17 my chosen vocation was as a carpenter, something that I thought I’d be doing for the rest of my life. Two carefree months short of my 18th birthday I was working on my first building site, exited that I was about to turn this old house into something beautiful. I’d been entrusted by my superior to remove the old part of the roof and drop it into the basement of the hollow house, but halfway through cutting the third frame, the wood splintered unevenly and descended into the basement, only to catch the sleeve of my coat and take me down three stories with it. As anyone who’s fallen from a great height and survived will tell you everything is in slow motion, a dream like state of mind – enough to force a change of career. On my way down I was convinced my life was about to end. I closed my eyes and totally relaxed myself to await my fate. It’s true that your whole life flashes before you, but I also saw myself as a fully-grown man far beyond my 17 years - I saw unfamiliar faces, that have now become recognizable, strange places I had yet to visit, my children yet to be born, and finally I saw myself blowing into this strange horn, the saxophone, and performing musical conversations with faces I now know as my friends. All this time I’m falling and wondering when I’m going to hit the ground, I keep saying to myself that if I do survive this I’ll follow though these strange and amazing visions.”
(Tony Kofi, from his sleevenotes to ALL IS KNOW)

Now in 2004, it’s the sound of his band that gets you and not his carpentry skills. Right from the very first note, a piercingly strong sax tone, perfectly in unison with the piano melody, so much so you think it’s one instrument playing both notes. And the whole lot held down by a rhythm section that swings like it’s going out of fashion. This is the sound of Tony Kofi’s quartet, part of a larger organisation dubbed The Monk Liberation Front, who release their first album “ALL IS KNOW” for Proper Records’ Specific imprint in June 2004.

Making its public debut in a now-legendary 6-hour session at the London Jazz Festival 2003, the band, including Jonathan Gee on piano, Winston Clifford on drums and Ben Hazelton on bass, as well as other guests, played the entire written repertoire of Thelonious Monk (70 tunes in all!), to a crowd who lapped up every note. Some two months later the band were ensconced in Specific’s in-house studio at The Powerhouse in South London, recording the marathon set over a period of 2 weeks. Having deliberated long and hard over which tunes to include from this session, the recording and mixing were eventually completed. All Is Know marks not only the debut recording as leader by this great british saxophone player but also the first release on Proper’s contemporary jazz imprint, Specific.

Tony Kofi’s playing career began when he chanced upon a series of jazz workshops, run in Leicester by Nick Haslam. Although actually a Nottingham native, 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 California, on a full scholarship, followed. While in the US Tony studied with the likes of Donald Byrd (who later recruited him for his band), Ernie Watts and Ralph Moore, 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 Tomorrow’s Warriors) a hotbed of young talent from the UK jazz scene. Tony was a vital part of the experience, his solos and ensemble work contributing massively to the success of this band. As well as playing live, the Warriors were involved heavily with education – spreading the jazz message through learning as well as gigging. Tony is still committed to this ethos, regularly running his own workshops and giving individual lessons.

Tony was busy throughout the ‘90s, playing with numerous high profile bands, including (in alphabetical order) Billy Higgins (1994), Branford Marsalis (1998). Claude Deppa’s A.J.E. & Horns Unlimited (1998). Clifford Jarvis (1997 - 1999), Courtney Pine (1994), Digable Planets (1992), Donald Byrd (1994), Dr. Lonnie Smith (1994), Eddie Henderson (1994), Julian Arguelles, Jazz Jamaica & Big Band (1996, 2000), Queen Latifah (1994), Ralph Moore (1994), Salt’n’Pepper (1994), The David Murray Big Band (1996). Following this, Tony spent time with the Township Express Orchestra and Tim Richards’ Great Spirit, and is still a member of both bands.

Ideas for solo projects of course followed this apprenticeship, and Tony’s found his attention turning to the work of Thelonious Monk. A long-time admirer of Monk’s compositional & improvisational style, Tony set himself the task of studying the man’s music in fine detail. This process lasted 5 years, resulting in the creation of an umbrella organisation, the Monk Liberation Front, which includes his current quartet. The band’s ethos is to bring the genius of Monk’s music to new audiences, and along the way to celebrate his unique creativity. Using the techniques of improvisation that Monk helped to pioneer – in short order, the prominent use of the whole tone scale, chromatic chord substitutions and distinctive rhythmic devices – the Monk Liberation Front bring Monk’s work to life for 21st Century listeners.

(Specific Jazz SPEC001)

Selected Press Quotes

“A new label, dedicated to featuring young British jazz talent and an auspicious debut release. Tony Kofi, already acknowledged to be an excellent saxophonist, has come up with an absorbing set”
(Dave Gelly, The Observer, 22/8/04)

“Not only the first own-name album for Tony Kofi but also the first release on Proper Records’ contemporary imprint Specific Jazz – and it’s an auspicious, hugely enjoyable and thoroughly convincing new beginning on both fronts”
(Chris May,

“Few Monk tributes are played with more passionate affection and sympathy…Monk might even have loved it” (4 Stars)
(John Fordham, The Guardian, 18/06/04)

“In Monk’s music, practitioners need to have sharp reflexes to play it and bold ideas for voicings to own it. Kofi and co have both, stretching themselves and always entering into Monk’s esoteric world with discipline and attention to detail” (3 Stars)
(Kevin Le Gendre, Echoes, September 2004)

“Fascinating and – I believe – quite an important record. It’s made Monk as a composer unavoidable again, and makes his songs sing inside your head when you’re not listening to it, doing something else – done that for me for some days now!” (CD of the month)
(Jack Cooke, Jazz Review, August 2004)

“The fresh feel is so contemporary, even though the songs originated fifty plus years ago. This really is a great record and it’s British. A very strong debut for another important UK jazz label” (4 Stars)
(Tony Hall, Jazzwise, August 2004)

“The spirit is irresistible. Very moving”
(Jazz UK, August 2004)

“Kofi and the Monk Liberation Front are about jazz as a living art form”
(The Guardian)

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