Thursday, 7 March 2013

12.3.13 Martin Speake / Jeff Williams / Barry Green

Martin Speake Trio, featuring Jeff Williams and special guest, Barry Green.

Martin Speake
Citing Lee Konitz, Charlie Parker, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Ornette Coleman, Steve Coleman, Rabih Abou Khalil, and Paul Motian as major influences, Martin Speake has developed a personal musical voice that expresses a deep understanding of the history and language of Jazz with an 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.
With Itchy Fingers, Martin toured Europe, South America, Africa, Britain and the USA, and recorded two albums. In 1988, he left the group to develop his own projects, and establish himself as a composer and improviser. His studies at Canada’s renowned Banff Centre for the Arts in 1990, under the artistic direction of Steve Coleman, and alongside peers that included keyboard players Andy Milne and Ethan Iverson, and trumpeter Ralph Alessi, proved to be pivotal and catalytic in Martin’s subsequent development as a creative musician.
Martin is as comfortable and fluent playing personal interpretations of the music of Charlie Parker with his quartet, or with free improvising drummer Mark Saunders, in a duet with Ethan Iverson of the Bad Plus, or with Indian musicians Dharambir Singh and Sarvar Sabri. In 1999 he received the Peter Whittingham Award to help fund a tour of the UK with The Martin Speake Group. In 2000 he was commissioned to compose music for an international project featuring American drummer Paul Motian, Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson and English bassist Mick Hutton. This group toured in May of that year with funding from the Arts Council of England and toured again in Autumn 2001. Their first cd Change of Heart was released on ECM in April 2006. 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.

He started his own record label Pumpkin in 2007 and has released four cds so far. SPARK is a duo with drummer/percussionist Mark Sanders, TWO NOT ONE,  a duo with guitarist Colin Oxley and two albums with with Barry Green, Dave Green and Jeff Williams entitled GENERATIONS and LIVE AT RIVERHOUSE. ALWAYS A FIRST TIME is the next release in Autumn 2012 featuring Mike Outram and Jeff Williams. Martin is a committed, inspiring, and sought after jazz educator and currently teaches at the Royal Academy of Music, Trinity College of Music, National Youth Jazz Collective and Trinity International Jazz Summer School. In the past he has taught at Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Middlesex University and for a number of years was External Examiner at Birmingham Conservatoire.

“Speake is a strikingly talented improviser with a seemingly bottomless well of inspiration.”  - Encyclopedia of Popular Music

'Martin Speake is one of the most interesting and rewarding alto saxophonists now playing jazz on any continent.' Thomas Conrad - Jazz Times

'Speake's playing can be as enigmatic as his writing. The lyricism and subtlety of both his written and improvised melodies sometimes unfold so gradually that one needs to take a mental step back to absorb it all'   John Kelman   All About Jazz

Jeff Williams is originally from Oberlin, Ohio, Jeff spent much of his youth in New York, where his mother was pursuing a career as a jazz vocalist. Her immersion in the city’s jazz scene provided Jeff with first-hand exposure to the music, mentorship from icons like Jo Jones and Coleman Hawkins and opportunities for sitting in with greats like Clark Terry. Following Berklee College of Music and study with Alan Dawson, Jeff began his professional career with Stan Getz (1972-74, 1988).  He was a member of Dave Liebman’s prolific group, Lookout Farm (1973-76), has had a long association with Lee Konitz and was chosen by Joe Lovano for his first major tours as a leader (1992-94).  Jeff has also performed and/or recorded with John Abercrombie, Cedar Walton, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Farmer, Michel Petrucciani, Randy Brecker, Paul Bley, John Scofield, Kenny Barron, Tony Malaby, Dave Holland, Tom Harrell and many others.  Since establishing a second home in London in 2005 Jeff has appeared in the UK with Phil Robson, Martin Speake, Nikki Iles, Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone, Hans Koller and more. Jeff's latest CD, Another Time, was selected as 2011 CD of the Year by UK Jazz Radio, a TOP 10 CD by All About Jazz and received a four star review in Downbeat. His quartet, featuring Duane Eubanks, John O'Gallagher and John H├ębert, toured the UK in May 2012.

In a career that has spanned more than 40 years, drummer Jeff Williams has honed a sound that seamlessly blends a sinewy, propulsive rhythmic sense with a masterful appreciation of space and atmosphere. Matthew Miller, The New York City Jazz Record 

Drummer Jeff Williams has and plays impeccable time, but he paints around the lines and shifts patterns to accent and highlight what's happening in the music at any given moment. He's the rare drummer who understands and conceptualizes time as something beyond the standard "spang-a-lang" status quo 
Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz

Barry Green
"The pianist can effortlessly sustain a graceful Bill Evans-like lyrical swing, but alsomassages the ideas of the others. His contemporary references give him a broad sweep,
and he has much to do with this set's freedom from bop-standard rigidities...The pianist
wraps a light tracery around Speake against ringing cymbal and thumping keynotes on
Jitterbug Waltz, and then plays a pungent solo..."
John Fordham,The Guardian

‘Green’s piano provided some real interaction with the vocals, sometimes prodding,
sometimes holding back, and often inserting deft little phrases that decorated
the lyrics with taste and sensitivity.’
Alyn Shipton, The Times

“That Green possesses such wide ranging interests will surprise no-one who has caught
him with the various band leaders to whose groups he contributes his sparkling
but cogent piano work”
Chris Parker,Vortex

“…the trio tracks show off Green’s virtuosity. His work can be both intricate and
assertive, and is constantly inventive. A CD which generously repays repeated listening”
Pete Martin, Jazz UK

“…the one who really shone was pianist Barry Green. Watching his imagination unfurl,
was an engaging experience and turned out to be the keenest musical pleasure of the
evening” – Ivan Hewett, Daily Telgraph

Barry studied classical and jazz piano at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, graduating in 2002. Whilst still studying, he began playing professionally in a varied range of musical styles. Barry plays regularly in jazz venues all over the UK, including Ronnie Scotts, Pizza Express Dean Street, The Wigmore Hall, The Purcell Room, Kings Place, the 606 Club and The Vortex. In the past few years he played in Croatia, Ireland, Turkey, Spain, Sweden, Germany and France.

Some musicians with whom he has performed and recorded with include: Dave Friesen, Adam Kolker, Martin Speake, Bobby Wellins, Perico Sambeat, Mick Hutton, Peter King, Spike Wells, Ben Street, Gilad Atzmon, Anita Wardell, Tina May, Don Weller, Jean Toussaint, Ed Jones, Charles McPherson, Jim Mullen, Tom Rainey, Deborah Brown, Christine Tobin, Anders Christiansson, Jim Snidero, Richie Cole, Jeff Williams, Alan Barnes, Bob Martin, Chris Laurence, Stan Sulzmann, Julian Argeulles, Trudy Kerr, Bill McHenry, The BBC Big Band, Gene Calderazzo, Marc Lockheart, Dave Cliff, Phil Robson,Tommy Whittle and Allison Neale.

In 2012 Barry's and Brigitte Beraha released their joint project "Bablefish" on Moletone records to glowing reviews followed by a national tour with plans for a second album very soon.

He is a member of Ingrid Laubrock’s quintet, which has toured Germany and Ireland. He is also a member of Laubrock’s two-piano nonet (featuring Tom Rainey and Liam Noble). This nonet has performed at Cheltenham Jazz festival and the Berlin Jazz Festival. 

Barry is also part of bassist Larry Bartley’s trio (with Winston Clifford). This trio formed the core part of an Octet that performed and was recorded at the Cheltenham Jazz festival. 

Barry has recorded a trio album with the American Jazz musicians Ben Street and Jeff Williams who between them have played with (amongst many others) Stan Getz, Dave Liebman, Danilo Perez and Brad Mehldau. The CD was released in May 2008 to a fanfare of subdued glory as the first release on Barry's label - Moletone records.

In 2010 Moletone records secon release is a duo with bass legend, Dave Green (no relation) exploring the songs of Alec Wilder and Ornette Coleman. "Turn Left at Monday" has received glowing reviews, is available now, and tours in September 2013 with special guests Henry Lowther and Alan Barnes.

Dave Green is also featured in the co-operative
 “Generations Jazz quartet”. This features Barry and Dave with Martin Speake and
Jeff Williams (almost four generations). This is soon to be released on Speake’s label/website.

Barry is a member of the MJQ project originally started by Mike Garrick. We recorded our first album in late 2012 and will be touring in 2013, featuring Jim hart, Matt Ridley and Steve Brown.

Barry has a quartet that performs his original music with Mark Hanslip, Oli Hayhurst and
Tim Giles. They have performed at numerous clubs in London and hope to record in

Barry has just launched his website,, where you can see upcoming
gigs as well as publicity material. His record label, moletone records, first release is his
New York Trio Cd, “The Music of Chance”.

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