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 RAM.
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 18 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.
He started his own record label Pumpkin in 2007 and has released 7 cds so far. 'Spark' is a duo with drummer/percussionist Mark Sanders and 'Two not one' a duo with guitarist Colin Oxley. Two albums with Barry Green, Dave Green and Jeff Williams followed entitled 'Generations' and 'Live at Riverhouse'. 'Always a first time' featuring Mike Outram and Jeff Williams were released in 2013 and 2014 he released 'Sound Clouds' with improvising classical pianist Douglas Finch and 'The Quiet Mind' with Mark Sanders and Oren Marshall.
Martin has also performed with Paul Motian, Bobo Stenson, Loose Tubes, Stan Tracey, Bhavani Shankar, Billy Jenkins, Django Bates, Bob Wilber, Conrad Herwig, Don Weller, Ronan Guilfoyle, Alison Bentley, The Style Council, Ann Pigalle, Kadam, saxophonist John Williams, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, Jim Mullen, Dave Cliff, Julian Arguelles, Ephie Resnick and the Royal Shakespeare Company among others.
He is lead alto saxophonist in the London Jazz Orchestra conducted by Scott Stroman and has recently formed a project to study and learn all the compositions of Thelonious Monk with pianist/ composer/valve trombonist Hans Koller.
His main creative outlet is a trio with guitarist Mike Outram and US drummer Jeff Williams performing original music.
Martin is a committed jazz educator and in addition to Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance he teaches at the Royal Academy of Music and the National Youth Jazz Collective Summer School.
He was external examiner at Birmingham Conservatoire for several years and also taught at Middlesex University and is guest tutor and examiner at Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
He is also involved in a British Jazz Oral History project of his own and has interviewed a number of important musicians such as Kenny Wheeler, Geoff Simkins, Dave Cliff, Pete Saberton and many others. These interviews can be read on his website at www.martinspeake.com
He has a BSc in Nutritional Medicine and has his own practice for clients who want to improve their health through diet and lifestyle changes.
'Martin Speake is one of the most interesting and rewarding alto saxophonists now playing jazz on any continent.’ Thomas Conrad - Jazz Times
Listen to Martin play here