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 23 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 and Intention (Ubuntu Records) in 2018 with Ethan Iverson, Fred Thomas and James Maddren.
He started his own record label Pumpkin in 2007 and has released 9 cds so far. SPARK is an improvised duo with drummer/percussionist Mark Sanders, TWO NOT ONE a duo with guitarist Colin Oxley playing standard songs. 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. Recent releases are ZEPHYR with violinist, violist, singer Faith Brackenbury, DUOS FOR TRIO Music of Bela Bartok with Matthew Forbes and Phelan Burgoyne.
"Martin Speake is one of the most interesting and rewarding alto saxophonists now playing jazz on any continent."
— Thomas Conrad, Jazz Times
Mick Foster is a saxophonist, clarinettist and composer who is particularly noted as a specialist in the baritone saxophone. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London and has since worked extensively in the fields of jazz, commercial and classical music. He has appeared with many ensembles which include the big bands of John Dankworth, Stan Sulzmann and Mike Garrick, the Back to Basie Orchestra, The Humphrey Lyttelton Band, Ginger Baker’s Air Force and The London Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also worked with Cleo Laine, Jacqui Dankworth, Trudy Kerr, Mark Lockheart, Guy Barker, Digby Fairweather, Swing Out Sister, The BBC Concert Orchestra, English National Opera and The Syd Lawrence Orchestra. Mick has recorded three albums under his own name and is in demand as a session musician, having played for many film and TV soundtracks.
As a composer Mick has written for various ensembles which include the London Jazz Orchestra, Quartz Saxophone Quartet, Docklands Sinfonia and Onyx Brass. His music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3; some of his pieces are published by Saxtet Publications and are included on both the ABRSM and Trinity College London exams syllabuses.
"Foster himself is a bright, imaginative soloist who exploits his instrument’s grainy, fruity charms perfectly, and his choice of material is impeccable. If you like your jazz warm, tasteful and elegant, without grandstanding [...] this is for you."
— Chris Parker, London Jazz Blogspot, (Four Views)