215

Martin Speake: Change of Heart

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Martin Speake: Change of Heart Change of Heart, alto saxophonist Martin Speake's first recording for ECM, will no doubt garner him some well-deserved international exposure. But he's been a fixture on the British scene for two decades, with a varied discography that a larger audience will now hopefully explore. This disc presents only one facet of Speake's interests, but it's as strong an entry point as any to his recent discography, which has included the exceptional Indian-influenced The Journey (Black Box, 2004) and an innovative tribute, Charlie Parker (Jazzizit, 2005).

In a 2004 AAJ interview Speake cited two key inspirations: pianist Keith Jarrett and drummer Paul Motian, in particular Motian's trio with saxophonist Joe Lovano and guitarist Bill Frisell. Motian's participation on Change of Heart, the end result of three prior British tours with Speake in the past decade, clearly holds special significance for Speake, who says "I really like Paul's tunes, simple yet incredibly beautiful.

With that premise as a clear model, Speake's eight original compositions on Change of Heart seem custom-fitted for Motian's textural approach to the kit, from the rubato tone poem "The Healing Power of Intimacy to the eloquent title ballad, where Motian implies a gentle swing while steadfastly (and characteristically) avoiding the obvious.

Joining Motian and Speake is pianist Bobo Stenson, no stranger to Motian, with whom he collaborated on Goodbye (ECM, 2005), and a highly interpretive player whose subtlest turn of phrase often says a great deal. His impressionistic strength is put to terrific use on "Bareface Thieves, whose shifts between hard swing and temporal flexibility suggest another of Speake's early influences, saxophonist Ornette Coleman. Stenson's ability to create a harmonic underpinning that's both suggestive and open-ended is especially notable on the nine-minute "Buried Somewhere, which evolves almost imperceptibly from a free-time duet with Motian into a full quartet piece where bassist Mick Hutton introduces a more defined pulse.

Hutton is another British player deserving greater recognition, although stalwart ECM fans will know him from First House, a quartet featuring pianist/horn player Django Bates which released two albums on ECM in the late 1980s. He's the ideal person to round out Speake's quartet—not only because they have a shared history, but because he's as implicit a player as the rest of the quartet, managing to combine tasteful melodism with occasional dissonance to create an anchor that's both elastic and unshakable.

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. That characteristic well suits the strength in understated elegance that marks Change of Heart—a fine album that, by revealing more with each successive listen, will undoubtedly stand the test of time.

Visit Universal Classics on the web.


Track Listing: The Healing Power Of Intimacy; Change Of Heart; Barefaced Thieves; Venn; Buried Somewhere; In The Moment; Three Hours; In Code.

Personnel: Martin Speake: alto saxophone; Bobo Stenson: piano; Mick Hutton: bass; Paul Motian: drums.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "A Matter Of Instinct" CD/LP/Track Review A Matter Of Instinct
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 20, 2016
Read "Sunshine Seas" CD/LP/Track Review Sunshine Seas
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 22, 2016
Read "Out Of The Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Out Of The Blue
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 15, 2016
Read "WANDERlust" CD/LP/Track Review WANDERlust
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 19, 2016
Read "Routes" CD/LP/Track Review Routes
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 4, 2016
Read "Songs From Afar" CD/LP/Track Review Songs From Afar
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 11, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!