Tony Coe was the first non-American to receive the world's ultimate accolade - the Jazzpar Prize (otherwise known as the jazz novel) in 1995.
Clarinetist, saxophonist and composer, he was invited to join the Count Basie band and was featured in the bands of Humphrey Lyttelton, John Dankworth, Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland, Stan Tracey and Henry Mancini (playing the tenor saxophone theme in most of the Pink Panther films), working and recording with musicians including Jimmy Rushing, Buck Clayton, Joe Turner, Cleo Laine, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen Macrae, Zoot Sims, Teddy Wilson, Johnny Griffin, Wynton Marsalis, Ronnie Scott, Phil Woods, Lee Konitz, Kenny Wheeler, Bob Brookmeyer, Clark Terry, Alan Hacker, and in 1999, he was invited to tour Europe as guest soloist with a band of Duke Ellington sidemen including trombonist Britt Woodman and bassist Jimmy Woods. In the London production of 'Lady Day' - a play about a period in the life of Billy Holiday, featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater - he was musical director, performer and actor.
In 1998 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in music by the University of Kent and he has received the BT jazz clarinet award four times.
He has composed several pieces of music, with Arts Council grants, including 'Zeitgeist', 'The Buds of Time', 'Songs of Old Chelsington' (orchestral piece for the Chelsea and Kensington Festival), 'England Someone's England', 'Invention on an Ostinato Rhythm' (for wind instruments), and 'The Smugglers Love' (for the 1999 Deal Festival). He has composed several film scores, including a two-hour piece for chamber orchestra to accompany the Marie Epstein silent film, 'Peau de Pêche'.
Some of his recent recordings include 'Captain Coe's Famous Racearound' with Bob Brookmeyer and the Danish radio band (Storyville), 'Street of Dreams' with Warren Vaché (Zephyr), 'In Concert' with John Horler and Malcolm Creese (ABCDs), 'Ruby' - a quartet album mainly of standards (Zah Zah), and 'Sun, Moon and Stars' with Alan Hacker (Zah Zah).
He plays in various ensembles including the Coe-Horler duo, the Hacker-Coe duo, the trio - Coe, Horler and Dankworth, a quartet, a quintet, a sextet with Gerard Presencer and Mark Nightingale and (occasionally) larger combinations.