MARTIN SPEAKE: INTENTION (UBU0009)
Leading British saxophonist, composer and jazz educator, Martin Speake is as comfortable playing personal interpretations of the music of Charlie Parker with his quartet, as free improvising with drummer Mark Sanders, playing standard ballads in duet with Ethan Iverson and Indian music with Dharambir Singh and Sarvar Sabri.
A member of the saxophone quartet Itchy Fingers in the 80s, Speake left the group to develop his own projects and establish himself as a composer and improviser. He has recorded 18 albums under his own name of diverse projects including the internationally acclaimed ECM release Change Of Heart with Paul Motian, Bobo Stenson and Mick Hutton.
Speake met pianist Ethan Iverson in 1990 at Banff Centre for The Arts in Canada where they studied for a month with Steve Coleman, Rufus Reid, Kevin Eubanks, Stanley Cowell, Kenny Wheeler and many others. “Ethan was 17 and I was impressed by his mature improvising at such a young age,” recollects Speake. “We met up when he was working with the Mark Morris Dance Company, played and recorded a few tunes. Then I fixed up a duo tour in 2002 and we recorded at the end of it. This was an album of standard ballads called My Ideal.”
Speake invited Iverson to play on his latest album Intention, along with bassist Fred Thomas and drummer James Maddren. The album features nine original compositions written at different points in Speake’s life, some from his early albums. “‘The Heron’ and ‘Magic Show’ were originally recorded on Trust, my second album under my own name. ‘Hidden Vision’, ‘Blackwell’, ‘Spring Dance’ and ‘Intention’ are from my first album In Our Time,” explains Speake. It is fascinating to see how my approach has developed since those albums and how the musicians on Intention interpret these pieces.”
The breadth of Speake’s music is captured in this album ranging from the beautiful opening track ‘Becky’, portraying the sadness of an estranged father, to ‘Twister’, a groove influenced by John Scofield and Eddie Harris, a new twist on Charlie Parker’s ‘Charlie’s Wig’, closing with ‘Intention’, a track inspired by Wayne W Dyer’s book The Power of Intention: Learning to Co-create Your World Your Way.