Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

2

Martin Speake: Intention

Roger Farbey By

Sign in to view read count
Celebrating his 60th birthday in April 2018, Martin Speake has been a stalwart of the British jazz scene for some forty years, initially playing with the saxophone quartet Itchy Fingers. He is lead alto saxophonist in the redoubtable London Jazz Orchestra and his teaching duties extend to Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and London's Royal Academy of Music. In his review of Speake's album Change Of Heart (ECM, 2006), John Kelman summarised the saxophonist's playing perfectly: "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."

Speake originally met former The Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson in 1990 at the Banff Centre For The Arts in Canada where they studied for a month with Steve Coleman, Kevin Eubanks, Stanley Cowell and Kenny Wheeler amongst others. The two subsequently recorded a duet album of standards, My Ideal (Basho Records, 2004). Speake is one of the UK's finest, if undersung, saxophonists, and, with nine of the eleven tracks on the album attributed to him, he's a talented composer too.

The sumptuous ballad "Becky," opens Intention, with Iverson stating the memorable head and Speake's pure bluesy alto declaiming its confident message during the latter half of the track. But with the jaunty "Twister" the mood changes dramatically and again on "Magic Show," its Ornette Coleman-like melody imparting a distinctive contrapuntal element before launching into freer territory. "Spring Dance" is a joyous celebration with Speake's wailing bluesiness dominant. Of the two non-originals on the album, Speake's interpretation of the Dietz and Schwartz classic "Dancing In The Dark" recalls Kelman's description of "lyricism and subtlety," By contrast, "Charlie's Wig" is a fast-paced reinterpretation of the Parker number. "Hidden Vision" exudes a sprightly Loose Tubes-ish melody, with Speake's alto bouncing around the choruses, nimbly pursued by Iverson. The title track closer is a wistful folky number where once again, Speake's penchant for subtle understatement is brought into relief. His ability to alternate light and shade with every track is key to this impressively seductive album.

Track Listing: Becky; Twister; Magic Show; Spring Dance; The Heron; Dancing in the Dark; Charlie's Wig; Blackwell; June 2nd; Hidden Vision; Intention.

Personnel: Martin Speake: alto saxophone; Ethan Iverson: piano; Fred Thomas: bass; James Maddren: drums.

Title: Intention | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Ubuntu Music

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Album Reviews
Profiles
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Intention

Intention

Ubuntu Music
2018

buy
 

Bloor Street

Hollywood & Highland Summer Jazz Concert Series
2010

buy
Generations

Generations

Pumpkin Records
2008

buy
Spark

Spark

Pumpkin Records
2007

buy
Change Of Heart

Change Of Heart

ECM Records
2006

buy
Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker

Jazzizit
2005

buy

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read New American Songbooks, Volume 2 Album Reviews
New American Songbooks, Volume 2
By Karl Ackermann
February 19, 2019
Read Live At JazzCase Album Reviews
Live At JazzCase
By Troy Dostert
February 19, 2019
Read Eastern Sonata Album Reviews
Eastern Sonata
By James Fleming
February 19, 2019
Read Cannonball Album Reviews
Cannonball
By Rob Rosenblum
February 19, 2019
Read Child Of Illusion Album Reviews
Child Of Illusion
By Don Phipps
February 19, 2019
Read Infection In The Sentence Album Reviews
Infection In The Sentence
By Chris May
February 18, 2019
Read Real Isn't Real Album Reviews
Real Isn't Real
By Phil Barnes
February 18, 2019