"Martin Speake is one of the most interesting and rewarding alto saxophonists now playing jazz on any continent." Thomas Conrad - Jazz Times
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 18 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.
He started his own record label Pumpkin in 2007 and has released 7 cds so far. SPARK is a duo with drummer/percussionist Mark Sanders, TWO NOT ONE a duo with guitarist Colin Oxley. 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. 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 recently formed a project to study and learn all the compositions of Thelonious Monk with valve trombonist Hans Koller, bassist Calum Gourlay and drummer David Dyson. His main creative outlet is a trio with guitarist Mike Outram and US drummer Jeff Williams performing original music. 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 and the National Youth Jazz Collective Summer School. He was external examiner at Birmingham Conservatoire for several years and also taught at Middlesex University and is guest tutor and examiner at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He is also 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 on his website at www.martinspeake.com He has a BSc in Nutritional Medicine and has his own practice for clients who want to improve their health through diet and lifestyle changes.
Rob Luft is a 21-year-old musician from London, and has often been described as one of the UK’s most prominent and talented young contemporary jazz guitarists. Praised by The Times for a run of recent performances at Ronnie Scott’s, Rob has been tipped ‘to achieve great things in the future’.
Having joined NYJO (National Youth Jazz Orchestra of GB) at the age of 15, Rob then went on to study on the jazz programme at the Royal Academy of Music. Subsequently, he co-founded the international tango quintet The Deco Ensemble, with whom he has released one album, ‘Encuentro’ (2015), featuring the music of Argentinian composers including Piazzolla, Gustavo Beytelmann & Ramiro Gallo. With this group alone, Rob has performed in The Wigmore Hall (London), The Purcell Room (London), Colston Hall (Bristol), not to mention in Madrid, Paris, Brussels, Rome, Warsaw, Prague, Bratislava, Strasbourg, Baku, as well as in many other major European cities. Other concert highlights include a performance at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the 2012 BBC Proms, a 2014 London Jazz Festival appearance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, as well as various performances with artists including Django Bates & Loose Tubes, Gregory Porter, The Hamish Stuart Band, Liane Carroll & Stan Sulzmann.
Rob is a member of Byron Wallen’s world-jazz quartet “Four Corners”, as well as Enzo Zirilli’s Zirobop, a quartet with whom he has released one album (‘Zirobop’ – 2015). He also appears on Liane Carroll’s latest release on Linn Records (‘Seaside’ – 2015), as well as the debut album of The Patrick Hayes Electric Ensemble (‘Back To The Grove’ – 2015). In terms of more contemporary styles, Rob plays in alt-rock band Ink Line, alongside bassist Tom McCredie & drummer Corrie Dick. With this project he has performed at venues including The Old Blue Last, Power Lunches & Birthdays. Finally, he can be seen performing in different world music styles, for example, he plays MPB with Brasilian singer Luna Cohen, and performs in Adam Glasser’s South African jazz outfit, alongside renowned musicians such as trumpeter Chris Batchelor.
Faith found her love for the violin and all things connected with wood, strings and sounds produced from them from the age of 7 via pinching her brother's school violin as often as possible. She started classically but soon dabbled with folk music and writing her own tunes. After spending her teenage years at music school she decided that music college was best avoided and started listening to jazz violinists such as Stephane Grappelli, Stuff Smith, Joe Venuti and after a while stumbled upon a more diverse music course at Brunel University where she had the great fortune of studying jazz violin with Johnny Van Derrick. Whilst living in London she played in a successful Irish band and Hot Club trio and worked as a florist by day. She also studied stringed instrument repair and making and after a course at Merton College she moved to Warwickshire, and studied further with luthier John Langstaffe in Leominster.
After a good number of years teaching peripatetically and privately she became busy with her two young sons and disappeared from life as was previously known to her:) However, in 2010 she started composing tunes again and decided to brush up her skills by attending the PG dip in Jazz Performance at Birmingham Conservatoire in 2012.
She now plays in an improvising multi influenced duo with the highly skilled letter carver and accordionist/pianist John Neilson. She sings and plays with The Martin Speake Quartet and Martin Speake's Mafarowi. Faith enjoys contributing and playing on other musician's projects as well as writing her own music, inspired by the beauty of her local surroundings in south Shropshire, by characters she meets, wild folk legends, poetry, Buddhism, art, awesome views, flamenco, frame drumming, wild swimming, Woody Allen films, her two boys and chickens.