Tony Oxley

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Tony Oxley
Oxley at the Moers Festival, Germany, in 2008
Oxley at the Moers Festival, Germany, in 2008
Background information
Born (1938-06-15) 15 June 1938 (age 83)
Sheffield, England
GenresAvant-garde jazz, free jazz
Years active1960s–present
Associated actsJoseph Holbrooke Trio, Derek Bailey, Cecil Taylor, John Surman, Tomasz Stańko, Bill Dixon, Alan Skidmore, Kenny Wheeler

Tony Oxley (born 15 June 1938) is an English free-jazz drummer and one of the founders of Incus Records.


Oxley was born in Sheffield, England.[1] A self-taught pianist by the age of eight, he first began playing the drums at seventeen. In Sheffield he was taught by Haydon Cook, who had returned to the city after a long residency in the 1950s at Ronnie Scott's in London. While in the Black Watch military band from 1957 to 1960, he studied music theory and improved his drumming technique. From 1960 to 1964 he led a quartet which performed locally in England. In 1963 he began working with Gavin Bryars and guitarist Derek Bailey in a trio known as Joseph Holbrooke.[2] Oxley moved to London in 1966 and became house drummer at Ronnie Scott's, where he accompanied visiting musicians such as Joe Henderson, Lee Konitz, Charlie Mariano, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, and Bill Evans until the early 1970s. He was a member of bands led by Gordon Beck, Alan Skidmore, and Mike Pyne.[1]

In 1969 Oxley appeared on the John McLaughlin album Extrapolation and formed a quintet with Bailey, Jeff Clyne, Evan Parker, and Kenny Wheeler, releasing the album The Baptised Traveller. Following this album the group was joined by Paul Rutherford on trombone and became a sextet, releasing the 1970 album 4 Compositions for Sextet.[1] That same year Oxley helped found Incus Records with Bailey and others and Musicians Cooperative. He received a three-month artist-in-residence job at the Sydney Conservatorium in Australia in 1970.[3] Around this time he joined the London Jazz Composers Orchestra and collaborated with Howard Riley. In 1973 he became a tutor at the Jazz Summer School in Barry, South Wales, and in 1974 he formed the band Angular Apron. Through the 1980s he worked with Tony Coe and Didier Levallet and started the Celebration Orchestra during the latter half of the decade. Oxley toured with Anthony Braxton in 1989 began a working relationship with Cecil Taylor.[1]

In 1993 he joined a quartet with Tomasz Stańko, Bobo Stenson, and Anders Jormin. In 2000 he released the album Triangular Screen with the Tony Oxley Project 1, a trio with Ivar Grydeland and Tonny Kluften.


As leader[edit]

  • The Baptised Traveller (CBS, 1969)
  • 4 Compositions for Sextet (CBS, 1970)
  • Ichnos (RCA Victor, 1971)
  • Jazz in Britain '68-'69 with John Surman, Alan Skidmore (Decca Eclipse, 1972)
  • Tony Oxley (Incus, 1975)
  • The Alan Davie Music Workshop with Alan Davie (ADMW, 1975)
  • February Papers (Incus, 1977)
  • S.O.H. (EGO, 1979)
  • Ach Was!? with Ulrich Gumpert, Radu Malfatti (FMP, 1981)
  • SOH (View, 1981)
  • Nutty On Willisau with Tony Coe (hatART, 1984)
  • Live at Roccella Jonica with Norma Winstone, Kenny Wheeler, Paolo Fresu, John Taylor, Paolo Damiani (Ismez/Polis Music, 1985)
  • Tomorrow Is Here Jazzfest Berlin 1985, Live from the Philharmonie (Dossier, 1986)
  • The Glider & The Grinder with Philipp Wachsmann (Bead, 1987)
  • Live in Roccella Jonica 1986 with Palle Mikkelborg, Charlie Mariano, Paolo Damiani, Tiziana Ghiglioni (Ismez/Polis, 1987)
  • Bodies with Claudio Fasoli, Mick Goodrick, Palle Danielsson (New Sound Planet, 1990)
  • Explore with Stefano Battaglia (Splasc(h), 1990)
  • In the Evenings Out There with Paul Bley, Gary Peacock, John Surman (ECM, 1993)
  • Tony Oxley Quartet (Incus, 1993)
  • Sulphur with Stefano Battaglia, Paolino Dalla Porta (Splasc(h), 1995)
  • The Enchanted Messenger (Soul Note 1995)
  • Deep with Ekkehard Jost, Reiner Winterschladen, Ewald Oberleitner (Fish Music, 1997)
  • Soho Suites (Recordings from 1977 & 1995) with Derek Bailey (Incus, 1997)
  • Digger's Harvest with Alexander von Schlippenbach (FMP, 1999)
  • Papyrus Volume I with Bill Dixon (Soul Note, 1999)
  • Papyrus Volume II with Bill Dixon (Soul Note, 1999)
  • Triangular Screen (Sofa, 2000)
  • Berlin Abbozzi with Bill Dixon, Matthias Bauer, Klaus Koch (FMP, 2000)
  • Floating Phantoms (a/l/l, 2002)
  • GratHovOx with Frank Gratkowski, Fred Van Hove (Nuscope, 2002)
  • S.O.H. Live in London with Alan Skidmore, Ali Haurand (Jazzwerkstatt 2007)
  • The Advocate with Derek Bailey (Tzadik, 2007)
  • Tony Oxley/Derek Bailey Quartet (Jazzwerkstatt, 2008)
  • Live at Jazzwerkstatt Peitz with Conny Bauer, Gianluigi Trovesi, Dietmar Diesner (Jazzwerkstatt 2008)
  • Improvised Pieces for Trio with Sebastiano Meloni, Adriano Orru (Big Round, 2010)
  • A Birthday Tribute – 75 Years (Incus, 2013)
  • Beaming (Confront Recordings, 2020)

With The Quartet

  • Dedications (Konnex, 1984)
  • Relation (Konnex, 1985)
  • Interchange (Konnex, 1986)
  • Live (Konnex, 1987)

As guest[edit]

With Gordon Beck

  • Experiments with Pops (Major Minor, 1968)
  • Gyroscope (Morgan, 1969)
  • Seven Steps to Evans - A Tribute to the Compositions of Bill Evans (MPS, 1980)[4]
  • When Sunny Gets Blue (Spring '68 Sessions) (Turtle, 2018)

With Bill Dixon

With Barry Guy/London Jazz Composers Orchestra

  • Ode (Incus, 1972)
  • Stringer (FMP, 1983)

With Joseph Holbrooke

  • ' 98 (Incus 2000)
  • The Moat Recordings (Tzadik, 2006)

With Rolf Kühn

  • Devil in Paradise (BASF, 1971)
  • Going to the Rainbow (BASF, 1971)

With Howard Riley

  • Flight (Turtle, 1971)
  • Synopsis (Incus 1974)
  • Overground (Emanem, 2001)

With Tomasz Stańko

With John Surman

With Cecil Taylor

With others[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Car, Ian; Fairweather, Digby; Priestley, Brian (2004). The Rough Guide to Jazz, 3rd Edition. p. 601.
  2. ^ Cox, Christop; et al. (2004). Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. p. 257.
  3. ^ Brennan, Gerald E. "Tony Oxley Biography".
  4. ^ "MPS". Retrieved 26 March 2020.