1958 Moe Koffman Quartette – Swingin’ Shepherd Blues
Moe Koffman grew up in Toronto and began studying violin when he was nine years old. He found work playing in dance bands and left school without graduating. In 1950, he moved to the United States and played in several big bands, including bands led by Sonny Dunham and Jimmy Dorsey.
Moe returned to Toronto in 1955 and formed a quartet that morphed into a quintet after a few years.
In 1957, his recording of the instrumental Swingin’ Shepherd Blues reached #23 on the Hot 100.
The success of the single helped raise public awareness of his flute-playing ability. It did not lead to more hit singles; his next single (Little Pixie) stalled at #72.
The releases of the single Shepherd Blues Cha Cha in 1958 and Swingin’ Shepherd Blues Twist a few years later both went unnoticed, and he never charted again in the US.
Moe modified the straps for his instruments so he could play a tenor and alto saxophone at the same time. As a studio musician, he found work in recording sessions in Toronto for over forty years. He played a rare instrument, the bass flute, and appears on most of the Canadian soundtracks produced during his tenure as a studio musician that used that instrument.
He continued releasing new albums regularly into the mid-eighties.
Cancer ended Moe’s life in 2001.
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