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Jan 29

Speake-ing aloud

As regular readers of this blog will know (well, maybe both of them will…), I’m a fan of British saxophonist Martin Speake, having written about him here and here when his playing has been broadcast on Radio 3; and I am Very Excited to announce that the Martin Speake trio will be coming to the Colyer-Fergusson Hall in March.

Speake freely

Speake freely

Speake has been a vital part of the British jazz scene ever since bursting onto the musical map as founder-member of the ground-breaking, ofttimes blistering sax quartet Itchy Fingers during the 1980s, a period which witnessed something of an explosion with groups like The Jazz Warriors and Loose Tubes and the arrival of Courtney Pine, Cleveland Watkiss, Django Bates and Andy Sheppard. A fertile period for British jazz, which had rather languished in the doldrums during the 1970s, and a time when that giant of British pianists, Keith Tippett, said he had to pick potatoes in order to make a living.

Emerging as part of this renaissance of British jazz, Speake forged a path which later saw the creation of the Martin Speake Group, with the album ‘Change of Heart’ released on that bastion of jazz record labels, ECM, in 2006, on which Speake partners the great pianist Bobo Stenson, bassist Mick Hutton and drummer Paul Motian. Active as a performer, he also teaches at Trinity Laban and the Royal Academy of Music.

Speake’s playing is at once effortlessly lyrical and restlessly, dextrously inventive, and is wholly accessible without being predictable or trite; it’s always subtle, assured and with a deft ear for melodic line. I’m ecstatic that the trio is bringing its current UK tour to the campus. Catch them live in the concert-hall on Wednesday 2 April at 1.10pm; admission is free. This is one gig you definitely won’t want to miss…

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