Celebrating anew the dearly departed whose impact on jazz remains hale and hearty.

Name: Moe Koffman

Claim to fame: Where to start? Mastered myriad winds (flute, sax, clarinet); boosted the circular breathing technique; played vibrant jazz in a bygone-era Toronto so square you couldn’t buy liquor off store shelves; wrote the music used forever on the CBC radio show, As It Happens.

Star sign: Capricorn, which provided Koffman with both the temerity and tenacity to play and promote jazz in a country scarcely populous enough to support pop. Also recorded classical composers (Bach, Vivaldi) in the 1970s just for kicks.

Why he’s still relevant: Koffman’s impact on (and influence over) the Canadian jazz scene cannot be overstated, not only as a composer, performer and session hand but also as a longtime talent booker for now-defunct Toronto jazz hotspot George’s Spaghetti House where, when not tearing up the floorboards with his own eclectic shows, Koffman opened doors for others. 

Own it: The Best of Moe Koffman, Volumes 1 and 2 (Universal, 1995).

Related links

You oughta know: Maynard Ferguson, a template for cool

You oughta know: Betty Carter, adventurous and inimitable

CBC archives: Swingin' Moe Koffman

posted by Li Robbins on Mar 12, 2012