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Moe Koffman

Moe Koffman

Moe Koffman (flute, saxophone, clarinet, composer, arranger) was born Dec. 28, 1928 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He passed away on March 28, 2001 in Orangeville, Ontario, Canada. A Canadian jazzlegend, Koffman gained lasting respect and recognition by his peers as one of the nation’s most important jazz institutions throughout a celebrated five-decade career in which he recorded dozens of albums and performed with legions of the music’s greats.

Moe Koffman was on of Canada’s true jazz icons, and in recognition of that, was awarded the prestigious Order of Canada in 1992 honouring his outstanding talent and dedicated service to the arts.

One of the first Canadian jazzmen to adopt the new bebop style born in New York in the early 1940’s. Moe Koffman played, toure, and recorded with a lengthy list of jazz stars that included Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Dorsey, Charlie Barnet, and Doc Severinsen, and in hundreds of television and recording studio bands.

Born Morris Koffman in Toronto in 1928, he began playing violin at age 9 and alto saxophone, clarinet, and flute at 13. He studied theory at the Toronto Conservatory of Music before moving to the United States for further study in the 1940’s. he returned to Toronto in 1955, and divided his career performing with his own jazz group and session work. He became the booking agent for George’s Spaghetti Housein 1956, remaiing in that capacity and performingt there himself and average of one week each month with his band “The Moe Koffman Quartet” (later expanded to a Quintet) until 1994.

The Canadian and U.S.success in 1958 of his recording of “Swinging Shepherd Blues” established his name internationally as a flutist and helped to popularize that instrument in jazz. In the mid-1960’s he made more than six appearances as soloist on NBC televisions’s “Tonight Show with Johnny Carson”.

Moe Koffman established and led what was to become one of the most successful jazz groups in Canada in 1955, originally a quartet but latterly a quintet with guitar great Ed Bickert and stellar pianist Bernie Senensky  as original members. In his final decade, Moe continued to compose and to perform with his beloved “The Moe Koffman Quintet” in clubs concert halls and festivals everywhere. His last public performance was with the Boss Brass in June 2000 for the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival.

Upon Koffman’s death in 2001, the former viceregal consort of Canada, John Rolston Saul said, “The creative excellence Moe Koffman achieved as a jazz musician, arranger, flutist, saxophonist, and clarinetist gave his tones an enchantment that ensnared the listener long after they were played. His talent brought us pleasure and delights abound, gifts that lodge him in the hearts of all Canadians.

In 1981, Recipient of PRO Canada William Harold Moon Award, 1991 Winner of the Toronto Arts Award for Music, 1993 Honoured for Songwriting by SOCAN, 1993 and 1994 Named The Jazz Report Awards “Flutist of the Year”, 1997 inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, 2001 Awarded the Prix Oscar Peterson, 2001 Inducted into the Canadian Jazz and Blues hall of Fame and in 2002 Named as MasterWorks honoree by the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada.


Video Clips

“Swinging Shepherd Blues” with The Guido Basso Orchestra (mid ’70s)


“I’ve Found A New Baby”  with Guido Basso (Trumpet) Ian McDougall (trombone) (1978)


“Groovin’ High”  Solos: Moe Koffman(as) Sam Noto(tpt)
– Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass –