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
Martin is probably best known for his long associations with the late British jazz pianist / composer Michael Garrick, trumpeter Loz Speyer, and the London Jazz Orchestra. He has also performed with Big Bands led by Kenny Wheeler, John Surman / Karin Krog, Stan Sulzmann, Mike Westbrook, Alec Dankworth, Henry Lowther, Pete Hurt, Duncan Lamont, Gabriel Garrick and Keith Nichols, and in the early 1990s was a member of the swing orchestra ‘Vile Bodies’.
He also works as a session musician, including touring and recording with ‘Radiohead’, performances with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and recording music for radio, television and film.
As an educator, Martin is perhaps best known for his continuing long service (since 1991) as a professor of jazz studies at the Guildhall School in London. He led jazz curricula at the school for 21 years and was awarded a fellowship (FGS) in recognition of his work in 2011. He is also a long serving tutor for Essex Music Services (since 1989), Musical Director of the Essex Youth Jazz Orchestra (since 1991) and professor of saxophone, clarinet and keyboard at the University Centre, Colchester.
Martin is also a regular tutor and leader on many short courses and workshops in the UK and internationally. He has also been a jazz consultant for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, external examiner, adjudicator at music festivals, a professor of jazz arranging, composition and jazz history at Goldsmiths’ College, London, tutor of musicianship at Junior Guildhall, and a professor of saxophone at City University, London.
Saxophonist, flautist and violinist Tori Freestone began her career aged 7 performing in folk clubs and now performs at the forefront of the UK jazz scene as both highly regarded bandleader and in demand sidewoman.
In 2017 she was shortlisted for the Parliamentary Jazz Awards Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year and the Arts Foundation Award for Jazz Composition.
As a bandleader she runs her own trio and co leads a duo with LJO pianist Alcyona Mick plus a sextet with 'Solstice' alongside John Turville (Tim Garland/Dave Binney) and LJO's featured vocalist, Brigitte Beraha.
The Tori Freestone/Alcyona Mick duo which also features Beraha released their debut album 'Criss Cross', which was recorded at the famous Artesuono studios in Italy, to wide critical acclaim in 2018 and have toured the UK, Germany and Spain. They have been invited to perform for Steinway in Frankfurt and a tour of Australia in 2020.
Freestone's trio debut album ‘In the Chophouse’ (2014) achieved wide critical acclaim in the UK and abroad including ‘All About Jazz’ top 10 Jazz albums of the year and a commission by the EFG 2014 London Jazz Festival followed with a performance at the Purcell Rooms alongside Henry Texier and the Hope Quartet. Her second Trio album ‘El Barranco’ (2016) led to similar acclaim and was a Europe Jazz Network’s Jazz Media Chart top pick. Most recently her third Trio album ‘El Mar de Nubes’ (2019) has garnered four star reviews in the UK, France, Germany, Austria and the States. The album was featured in the Guardian newspaper as Jazz Album of the month June 2019.
"Freestone has clearly listened widely, but her musicality and broad experiences have stirred all that input into an imposingly original sound"
- John Fordham, The Guardian
Pete Hurt has quietly been part of the London jazz scene for almost four decades, developing a uniquely distinguishable tenor saxophone sounds and compositional voice.
Born in Nottingham in 1950, in the early seventies Pete moved to London, joining first the Graham Collier band, and later Redbrass with Dick Pearce, Chris Biscoe, and Annie Lennox. He also formed a quartet (and lifelong musical partnership), Lighthouse, with pianist Pete Saberton, winning the Greater London Arts Association’s Young Jazz Musician of the Year award for 1976.
Pete recorded regularly for the BBC (Jazz Club, Jazz in Britain, etc.) with bands ranging from a quartet to a small big band, and wrote many arrangements for the BBC Big Band. In 1984 he released “Lost For Words” on the Spotlite label with a twelve-piece line-up including Henry Lowther, Chris Biscoe and Chris Pyne. He was invited to join George Russell's Anglo-American Living Time Orchestra with Palle Mikkelbourg, Kenny Wheeler and Courtney Pine, touring in Europe and the USA; he also toured and recorded with the first Andy Sheppard big band, Andy’s Big Commotion, and the Carla Bley Very Big Band. In 1994 Pete recorded his first quartet album, Umbrellas, on the ASC label with pianist Pete Saberton, bassist Tim Wells and drummer Tristan Maillot. He recently released A New Start on the Trio label with his own Pete Hurt Orchestra.
Amongst other musicians that Pete has performed with are Kenny Wheeler, Mike Westbrook, Don Rendell, John Taylor, Mick Pyne, Bryan Spring, The Prague Television Orchestra, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Stan Sulzmann, and he is a member of Henry Lowther’s quintet, Still Waters.
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)