"Martin Speake is one of the most interesting and rewarding alto saxophonists now playing jazz on any continent.’"
Thomas Conrad - Jazz Times
Martin Speake - LTCL, FTCL, Hon ARAM, BSc Nutritional Medicine, FHEA
Martin studied classical saxophone at Trinity College of Music. At that time there were no jazz courses in London, but he met some future jazz musicians at the college, including pianist Simon Purcell, saxophonist Mark Lockheart and the members of saxophone quartet Itchy Fingers who were studying at the Royal Academy of Music. He toured Europe, South America, Africa and the USA with Itchy Fingers appearing at major jazz festivals and playing on their first two CDs Quark (Virgin Records) and Teranga (Venture). In 1986 they won the Schlitz Young Jazz Musicians of the Year Award, which was televised by the BBC.
In 1988, he left the group to develop his own projects, which have been many and diverse, and establish himself as a composer and improviser. Martin is as comfortable playing personal interpretations of the music of Charlie Parker with his quartet, free improvising with drummer Mark Sanders, playing standard ballads in duet with Ethan Iverson and Indian music with Dharambir Singh and Sarvar Sabri.
He has recorded 23 cds under his own name of diverse projects including the internationally acclaimed ECM release Change Of Heart with Paul Motian, Bobo Stenson and Mick Hutton and Intention (Ubuntu Records) in 2018 with Ethan Iverson, Fred Thomas and James Maddren.
He started his own record label Pumpkin in 2007 and has released 10 cds so far. SPARK is an improvised duo with drummer/percussionist Mark Sanders, TWO NOT ONE a duo with guitarist Colin Oxley playing standard songs. Two albums with Barry Green, Dave Green and Jeff Williams entitled GENERATIONS and LIVE AT RIVERHOUSE. ALWAYS A FIRST TIME featuring Mike Outram and Jeff Williams in 2013 and in 2014 SOUND CLOUDS with improvising classical pianist Douglas Finch and THE QUIET MIND with Mark Sanders and Oren Marshall. Recent releases are ZEPHYR with violinist, violist, singer Faith Brackenbury, DUOS FOR TRIO - MUSIC OF BELA BARTOK with Matthew Forbes and Phelan Burgoyne. UNQUIET QUIET with Phelan Burgoyne’s trio with Martin and Rob Luft.
Martin has also performed with Paul Motian, Bobo Stenson, Loose Tubes, Stan Tracey, Bhavani Shankar, Billy Jenkins, Django Bates, Bob Wilber, Conrad Herwig, Don Weller, Ronan Guilfoyle, Alison Bentley, The Style Council, Ann Pigalle, Kadam, saxophonist John Williams, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, Jim Mullen, Dave Cliff, Julian Arguelles, Ephie Resnick and the Royal Shakespeare Company among others.
He is lead alto saxophonist in the London Jazz Orchestra conducted by Scott Stroman and has formed THELONIOUS to study and learn all the compositions of Thelonious Monk with valve trombonist/pianist Hans Koller, bassist Calum Gourlay and James Maddren. His main creative outlets are a trio with guitarist Mike Outram and US drummer Jeff Williams performing original music and Charukesi with tenor saxophonist Alyson Cawley, guitarist Mike De Souza and drummer Will Glaser playing Indian/Arabic/Turkish inspired groove music.
In 2018 he continued his musical relationship with Ethan Iverson touring the UK and releasing Intention(Ubuntu) also featuring James Maddren and Fred Thomas.
Martin is a committed jazz educator and in addition to Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance he teaches at the Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the National Youth Jazz Collective Summer School. He was external examiner at Birmingham Conservatoire for several years and also taught at Middlesex University.
He is involved in a British Jazz Oral History project of his own and has interviewed a number of important musicians such as Kenny Wheeler, Geoff Simkins, Dave Cliff, Pete Saberton and many others. These interviews can be read: here
Martin Speake LTCL has a BSc in Nutritional Medicine and has his own practice for clients who want to improve their health through diet and lifestyle changes.