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Martin Speake was born in Barnet, England, in 1958. There was music in the family and his grandmother was a pub pianist all her life having started off playing for silent films. A cousin was a semi professional jazz pianist who was inspired by Bill Evans, his mother loved Ella Fitzgerald and his auntie and uncle listened to Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and Errol Garner.
He left school at 16 with very few qualifications and bought an alto saxophone. After studying some music theory he first went to Southgate Technical College and then to Trinity College of Music to study classical saxophone from 1977 to 1981. At that time there were no jazz courses in London.
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