• Event Start: 8:00 pm
  • New Horizons Stage
  • Admission: £14

Composer, musician, bandleader, educator and record label founder – Alto saxophonist Martin Speake brings his project ‘In all Languages – The music of Ornette Coleman’ to Jazz at NAC with:

Martin Speake alto saxophone

Alyson Cawley tenor saxophone

Calum Gourlay bass

Tristan Mailliot drums

Learn more about Martin and his many projects at

Martin Speake has been at the forefront of the UK jazz scene since the mid 80’s when he first cato prominence as a member of the all-saxophone quartet Itchy Fingers with whom he toured all over the world. He left the group to pursue his many and diverse projects as a composer and improviser.

He has worked with a wide range of artists and musicians including Loose Tubes, Stan Tracey, Django Bates, Style Council and Airto Moreira.

More recently Martin teamed up with former pianist of The Bad Plus, Ethan Iverson, with whom he toured extensively over the past few years, including two great gigs at Crookes Social Club. The 2020 gig at Crookes is featured in a recently released documentary about the band’s tour

He has recorded 23 albums under his own name, including the internationally acclaimed ECM release ‘Change Of Heart’ with Paul Motian, Bobo Stenson and Mick Hutton and ‘Intention’ (Ubuntu Records) with Ethan Iverson, Fred Thomas and James Maddren. This new quartet recorded an albumin early 2020, entitled ‘Universal Language’.


“I have been drawn to Ornette’s music since I began playing alto saxophone nearly 50 years ago. In 1974 after I had left school at 16, I was working in an office and saved up enough money to buy a saxophone after realising there must be more to life than filling out motor insurance claim forms and staring at the office clock hoping it would get to 5pm quickly each day.

Ornette was an early influence and the album Live At The Golden Circle was the first I purchased (along with Bird and Diz) and the tune Dee Dee was the first I tried to learn. The saxophone I bought was a white plastic Grafton alto as I had seen a photo of Ornette with one on those early Atlantic Records albums.

Over the years in my musical and personal development I have a returned to Ornette Coleman and Charlie Parker for further inspiration and each time discovering something new about them and deepening my connection with this music. I have had projects playing this music with like minded souls over the years.

I am going through an Ornette period again now and have transcribed many of these wonderful melodies. In fact working out these tunes has kept me going through this challenging period in our history. This new band are all more recent collaborators and is wonderful to hear how they interpret these melodies as inspirations for improvising together and telling their own story.

Many of Ornette’s melodies have become ‘standards’ being played by many musicians all over the world such as Lonely Woman, Ramblin’ and Law Years but there are many undiscovered gems that are not played as often or at all by others.

We have 60 tunes to draw on already and the repertoire is growing.

This music is endless. Ornette is the supreme melodist.”

– Martin Speake

Martin Speake is one of the most interesting and rewarding alto saxophonists now playing jazz on any continent." Thomas Conrad - Jazz Times
WATCH Documentary following a 17-day music tour with the Martin Speake International Quartet, featuring jazz icons Martin Speake (saxophone) Ethan Iverson (piano) Jorge Rossy (drums) Jeff Williams (drums) and Calum Gourlay (bass).
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