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British Jazz Musician Tony Kofi

Jazz musician ‘gobsmacked’ after fans raise £3000 to replace stolen saxophone

An award-winning jazz musician was heart-warmed after supporters raised thousands of pounds to replace his vintage saxophone, which was stolen in a Wandsworth break-in.

A burglar broke into the World Heart Beat music academy, on Kimber Road, via a first-floor window, and stole Jazz maestro Tony Kofi’s King Zephyr saxophone on Monday 22 March at around 2am.

Saddened to hear the news, the owner behind Hackney-based Premises Studios, where the likes of Kofi, Amy Winehouse and Nina Simone have rehearsed and recorded, decided to act and kickstarted a GoFundMe page to replace the stolen instrument.  

Within 12 hours, friends, fellow musicians, and donors from all over the world had matched the £3000 GoFundMe target.

Kofi said: “I’m completely gobsmacked. It was a really nice surprise, I could not believe it. I didn’t know that all these musicians cared so much, I almost burst into tears.

“This is something that I never, ever encountered. It was just such a beautiful thing. It just shows that good definitely overcomes evil.”

British Jazz musician Tony Kofi
Jazz musician Tony Kofi holding his 1930s King Zephyr Saxophone before it was stolen.

Kofi said he was especially blown away after a close childhood friend he hadn’t seen in 42 years donated £1000. 

The jazz musician’s GoFundMe post has since been shared over 1,200 times on Facebook, while more than £4000 has been raised.

The Premises Studio owner Viv Broughton believes the widespread support shows the high regard with which Kofi is held as a musician.

Broughton said: “We were very upset to hear that his saxophone had been stolen. All musicians have suffered terribly through this pandemic.

“So if that wasn’t bad enough, having someone’s instrument stolen as well, is really a crushing blow.”

The thief also stole a second saxophone and video production equipment, which the charity had recently bought to support its students with COVID-19 remote learning.

World Heart Beat music academy founder Sahana Gero said: “We are devastated. As musicians, we live and breathe music, and the happiness and positivity it brings to our communities and young people is irreplaceable.”

The music charity, where 56-year-old Kofi has taught for over seven years, offers music opportunities to young people aged between 5 and 25, from low income and disadvantaged backgrounds, local to Wandsworth and neighbouring boroughs.

World Heart Beat music academy students making a sound recording. Photographer: Phil Conrad
World Heart Beat students making a sound recording using video equipment. Credit: Phil Conrad

Kofi added:  “We’re giving so much to these young musicians, keeping them off the street. When someone comes in and does something like this, you are destroying something so beautiful.

“We never, ever thought this was possible. It was just a horrible thing. I came there on the Monday and I’ve got all these students waiting for me, and the saxophone was just gone. I’d had that about ten years.”

World Heart Beat music academy students playing instruments together. Photographer: Phil Conrad
World Heart Beat students playing instruments together. Credit World Heart Beat

While Kofi has already started to look for a replacement saxophone, he thinks it might take him a while to find the right one. 

He said:  “It’s a very personal thing. You can’t just walk into a shop and pick up a saxophone and say ‘yeah that’s the one.’ You have to have a bond with an instrument, you have to have a good vibration with it.”

A Met Police spokesperson said: “At this stage police believe that one suspect entered the premises and conducted an untidy search before leaving the venue on a bicycle in the direction of Merton Road. The suspect stole two saxophones, IT and photographic equipment.

Detectives from South West Area Command investigate. There have been no arrests.

Anyone who has information concerning this burglary or the re-sale of the stolen property should call police on 101 or Tweet @MetCC quoting CR0305799/21.”

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