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Moe Koffman

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Moe Koffman
Background information
Birth nameMorris Koffman
Born(1928-12-28)December 28, 1928
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
DiedMarch 28, 2001(2001-03-28) (aged 72)
Orangeville, Ontario, Canada
Instrument(s)Saxophone, flute
LabelsAnthem, GRT, Jubilee, Kama Sutra, United Artists

Morris "Moe" Koffman, OC (28 December 1928 – 28 March 2001) was a Canadian jazz saxophonist and flautist, as well as composer and arranger. During a career spanning from the 1950s to the 2000s, Koffman was one of Canada's most prolific musicians, working variously in clubs and sessions and releasing 30 albums.[1] With his 1957 record Cool and Hot Sax on the New York–based Jubilee label, Koffman became one of the first Canadian jazz musicians to record a full-length album. Koffman was also a long-time member of Rob McConnell's Boss Brass.

Early life and education[edit]

Koffman was born in Toronto to Jewish immigrants from Poland. His parents operated a variety store.[2] At the age of nine he began his musical studies in his native city, studying violin.[3] He studied with Gordon Delamont, and later attended the Toronto Conservatory of Music, now the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto, where he was a student of Samuel Dolin.


Koffman dropped out of school when he found work performing in dance bands. In 1950, he moved to the United States, where he played with big bands including those of Sonny Dunham and Jimmy Dorsey.[4] In 1955, he returned to Toronto where he formed a quartet and later a quintet. He recorded Swinging Shepherd Blues in 1957 which helped establish his reputation as a flautist. "Swinging Shepherd Blues" was a hit in the United States, reaching #38 on the Billboard pop chart and #23 on the UK Singles Chart.[5][6]

Koffman was inspired by Rahsaan Roland Kirk to play multiple instruments at once; and had a modified set of straps to hold a tenor and an alto saxophone so that he could put forward incredible chords and improvise at the same time. One of the more famous session musicians in Toronto, he appeared in countless commercials, background music, and film and TV soundtracks. Most work on bass flute in Canadian soundtracks from 1950 to 1990 in Toronto sessions was done by Koffman on this rare instrument. Koffman was also an exponent of circular breathing techniques for his large volumes of sound, and joined fellow Canadian Maynard Ferguson and new age multi-instrumentalist musician Ron Allen in this talent.

During the 1970s, Koffman recorded several albums with arrangements of works by classical composers including Bach, Mozart and Vivaldi. The albums were released by GRT Canada[7] and later by Universal. He also was a guest performer with a number of symphony orchestras across Canada.

He performed with Dizzy Gillespie and Peter Appleyard during the 1980s, as well as continuing to front the Moe Koffman Quintet.[8] He often performed with Rob McConnell's Boss Brass. From 1956 to 1990, Koffman booked performers for George's Spaghetti House in Toronto, where he performed weekly.[9][10] His compositions "Curried Soul" and "Koff Drops" have been used as the opening and closing themes respectively for the CBC radio show As It Happens since 1972.[11][12]

He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1993 and inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1997.


By May 1970, Koffman's album, Moe's Curried Soul was out on the Revolver label. It entered the RPM100 album chart at #100 on the week ending May 9.[13] It peaked at #90 on the week ending June 13.[14][15]

Koffman recorded the single "City Motions" with The Longo Brothers. It charted in the CanCon Top 10 Adult Contemporary chart for a number of weeks in 1984.[16][17][18]

Illness and death[edit]

Koffman was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2000, and died of cancer in Orangeville, Ontario in 2001 at the age of 72.[19]


In 2002, Moe Koffman was a MasterWorks honouree by the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada. Some of Koffman's music for Duke Street Records was unreleased at the time of his death. Music for the Night was released and re-issued in 2007, and Devil's Brew was re-issued in 2009.

Discography (Selective)[edit]

Canadian singles
Act Release Catalogue Year Notes
Moe Koffman Quartette
Moe Koffman Septette
"The Swingin' Shepherd Blues" / "Hambourg Bound" Quality K1690 1957
Moe Koffman Quartet "Little Pixie" / "Koko-Mamey" Jubilee 45-5324 1958
Moe Koffman "Keep Walkin' Little Flock" / "Wishbone" Zirkon 1057 1961
Moe Koffman "Swingin' Shepherd Blues Twist" United Artists UA 2100 1962
Moe Koffman "Jazz Merengue" / "Growing Up" United Artists UA 2118 1962
Moe Koffman "Soul Brothers" / "I Want to Hold Your Hand" Jubilee J-5485X 1964
Moe Koffman "Flootenanny" / "Coffee House" Sparton 4-1243-R 1964
Moe Koffman "Bulldog Walk" / "Big Bad Irving" Atco ATCO. 6382 1965
Moe Koffman "Night Love (Nacht Liebe)" / "Senor Acapulco" Columbia C4-2727 1967 [20] [citation needed]
The Longo Brothers Featuring Moe Koffman "City Motions" / "If the Feeling's Not Right" People City Music PCM 823 1984 [21][16][17]


  • Cool and Hot Sax (1957) (Jubilee)
  • The Shepherd Swings Again (1958) (Jubilee)
  • Moe Koffman The Swinging Shepherd Plays for Teens (1962) (Ascot)
  • Tales of Koffman (1962) (UA)
  • The Moe Koffman Quartet (1963) (CTA)
  • Moe Koffman (1967) (Universal)
  • 1967 (1967) (Just A Memory)
  • Moe Koffman Quartet (1967) (CBC/RCI)
  • Moe Koffman Goes Electric (1967) (Jubilee)
  • Turned On Moe Koffman (1968) (Jubilee)
  • Moe's Curried Soul with Doug Riley & Lenny Breau (1969) (Revolver)[10]
  • Moe Koffman Plays Bach (1971) (GRT)
  • The Four Seasons (1972) (GRT)
  • Master Session (1974) (GRT)
  • Solar Explorations (1974) (GRT)
  • Swinging Shepherd (1975) (Universal)
  • Live at George's (1975) (GRT)
  • Jungle Man (1976) (GRT)
  • Museum Pieces (1977) (Janus)
  • Things Are Looking Up (1978) (GRT)
  • Back to Bach (1979) (Anthem)
  • Project (1980) (Universal)
  • If You Don't Know Me By Now... (1982) (Elektra)
  • Moe-Mentum (1986) (Universal)
  • One Moe Time (1986) (Duke)
  • Oop.Pop.A.Da featuring Dizzy Gillespie (1989) (Universal)
  • Moe Koffman Quintet Plays (1990) (Duke Street Records)
  • Music for the Night arranged by Doug Riley (1991) (Universal)
  • Collection (1993) (Universal)
  • Devil's Brew (1996) (Universal)

With the Ron Collier Orchestra featuring Duke Ellington

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Larry LeBlanc (24 February 2001). ""Universal Canada gives priority to veteran jazzer Moe Koffman". Billboard". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 58–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  2. ^ Adams, James (2001-03-29). "Koffman was jazz ambassador and a remarkable innovator". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  3. ^ "Swingin’ Moe Koffman". CBC Radio Archives, Feb. 2, 2001
  4. ^ Betty Nygaard King (June 20, 2007). "Moe Koffman". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  5. ^ Fitzpatrick, Rob (2015-04-22). "The 101 strangest records on Spotify: Moe Koffman – The Swingin' Shepherd Plays for the Teens". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  6. ^ Ruth Schweitzer (2015-03-10). "Jazz player keeps it in the family". The Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  7. ^ ""GRT Fete for Koffman LP". Billboard". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 13 January 1973. p. 43. ISSN 0006-2510.
  8. ^ Terry Pender (2017-03-07). "One of Canada's top jazz pianists leads Moe Koffman tribute". therecord.com. Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  9. ^ Larry LeBlanc (14 April 2001). ""Canada's Koffman recalled as jazz master". Billboard". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 7. ISSN 0006-2510.
  10. ^ a b Ron Forbes-Roberts (2006). One Long Tune: The Life and Music of Lenny Breau. University of North Texas Press. p. 145. ISBN 978-1-57441-210-9.
  11. ^ "As It Happens debuts remix of Moe Koffman theme song".
  12. ^ Posner, Michael. "Still happening after 40 years - The Globe and Mail". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved Aug 6, 2019.
  13. ^ RPM Weekly, Volume 13 No. 12 May 9th, 1970 - Pages 11-12 RPM100 ALBUMS
  14. ^ RPM Weekly, Volume 13, No. 17 June 13, 1970 - Pages 12-13 RPM100 ALBUMS
  15. ^ RPM Weekly, Volume 13 No. 18 June 20th, 1970 - Page 10 RPM100 ALBUMS
  16. ^ a b RPM Weekly, Volume 41 No. 5 October 6, 1984 - Page 14 Longo Brothers release City Motions single
  17. ^ a b RPM Weekly, Volume 41 No. 5 October 6, 1984 - Page 5 TOP CANCON, ADULT CONTEMPORARY
  18. ^ RPM Weekly, Volume 41 No. 8 October 27, 1984 - Page 7 TOP CANCON, ADULT CONTEMPORARY
  19. ^ Mark Kearney; Randy Ray (30 September 2006). Whatever Happened To...?: Catching Up with Canadian Icons. Dundurn. p. 251. ISBN 978-1-4597-1819-7.
  20. ^ 45Cat - Moe Koffman - Discography, Canada
  21. ^ 45Cat - The Longo Brothers Featuring Moe Koffman - Discography, Canada

External links[edit]