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Martin Speake

Citing Lee Konitz, Charlie Parker, Warne Marsh, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Ornette Coleman, Steve ​Coleman, Rabi Abou Khalil, and Paul Motian as major influences, Martin has developed a personal ​musical voice that expresses a deep understanding of the history and language of Jazz with ​individuality as an improviser that is intelligent, melodic, cool, complex, direct, beautiful and ​profound. ​  Born in Barnet, North London in 1958, Martin was inspired to take up the saxophone at the age ​of 16. From 1977-81, he studied Classical Saxophone at Trinity College of Music, where he was awarded the prestigious Dame Ruth Railton prize for woodwind playing. He first came to public attention as a founder member of the award winning Saxophone Quartet ‘Itchy Fingers’ during the height of the UK’s so called ‘80’s Jazz Revival’ when a host of young musicians including Courtney Pine, Andy Sheppard, Django Bates, Iain Ballamy and the big bands of the Jazz Warriors and Loose Tubes were acclaimed as the leaders of an emerging generation of UK jazz talent. 

2004 saw the release of three different cds including The Exploring Standards Trio (33 Records) with bassist Mick Hutton and drummer Tom Skinner, a ballad album My Ideal (Basho Records) with American pianist Ethan Iverson (The Bad Plus), and The Journey (Black Box) with Indian musicians Dharambir Singh and Sarvar Sabri. Autumn 2004 he toured with Sam Rivers in his UK big band on a Contemporary Music Network tour. In 2005 he celebrated the music of Charlie Parker with a newly formed group and touring throughout the country promoting a cd release of the project. 

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“Speake is a strikingly talented improviser with a seemingly bottomless well of inspiration.” - Encyclopedia of Popular Music “An alto saxophonist who sounds only like himself.” Dave Gelly - The Observer “A saxophonist with an unusual turn of phrase, a persuasively gentle sound and jazz allegiances that don’t follow the usual Coltranesque paths but veer instead toward the fifties Cool School, Martin Speake is not just a distinctive improviser but a striking composer too. Superficially, Speake can sometimes seem cool to the point of chilliness - but like his original inspirations, the heat is all in the logic and integrity of the lines, the balance of mind and heart.” John Fordham - The Guardian “One of the most original and interesting contemporary jazz saxophonists on the British scene

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Photos

Albums

Feathers

Pumpkin Records
2019

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Intention

Ubuntu Music
2018

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Bloor Street

Hollywood & Highland Summer Jazz Concert Series
2010

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Generations

Pumpkin Records
2008

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Spark

Pumpkin Records
2007

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Change Of Heart

ECM Records
2006

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