Tag Archives: Martin Speake

Speake the Truth: workshop with British jazz giant

After a mesmerising lunchtime concert from the Martin Speake Trio on Wednesday, some of the University students had the opportunity to work with the musicians in the workshop that followed.

Led by saxophonist Martin Speake, the students shared insights into aspects of jazz and improvisation with guitarist Mike Outram and drummer Jeff Williams, exploring in particular Secret Woods, one of the pieces the trio had played in the lunchtime concert. The musicians examined what working together as a group involves, the role of different instruments and aspects of space and silence in music; as Mike Outram put it, “I think of space [in music] as active, rather than passive. You’re actively putting it out there.”

A terrific opportunity for some of our musicians to learn from three of the finest musicians working in the world of jazz. Our thanks to the trio.

Speake freely: Martin Speake Trio to come to the Lunchtime Concert series

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 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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Sponsors of the Lunchtime Concert series

This year’s love: new brochure now online

A dizzying profusion of events is unleashed over the coming months, as you can now see from our online events calendar.

CF_Cathedral_2014The free Lunchtime Concert series includes a visit from British saxophonist Martin Speake, who brings his trio as part of his current UK tour, and from acclaimed sitar-player, Jonathan Mayer. There’s the annual Colyer-Fergusson Cathedral Concert with the University Chorus and Orchestra, this year commemorating the First World War with music by Elgar and Vaughan Williams, and the Chamber Choir returns to the Cathedral Crypt to sing a programme including Palestrina, Brahms, Whitacre and Paul Patterson.

Conductor Ian Swatman leads the Concert and Big Bands at the end of February in Ravel and Earth, Wind and Fire, and later teams up with the Big Band from St Edmund’s School in a charity gig in aid of the Pilgrim’s Hospice. There’s music down the hill, too, as the Lost Consort explores the music of Hildegard von Bingen in the Roman Undercroft of St Thomas’ Hospital, and the Chamber & Cecilian Choirs at St Peter’s Methodist with music by Hassler, Maskats and Chilcott.

bigband_ruby_dec2013Visitors to the concert-hall include Rachel Podger, who brings a recital of works for solo baroque violin, and later in May there’s a recital from pianist Malcolm Binns.

Plenty to enjoy over the coming months; see the calendar online here, or download the brochure (PDF) here. Meanwhile, the Lunchtime Concert series begins on Weds February 12 with music for two-pianos and four-hands by Poulenc, Ravel and Gavin Bryars with pianists Matthew King and your loyal correspondent, who is now off to practice…

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Sponsors of the Lunchtime Concert series