"Secret" (SRCD 3-2). This new contemporary jazz project features Martin Speake on alto saxophone, Nikki Iles on piano, Duncan Hopkins on double bass and Anthony Michelli on drums and cymbals. It was recorded in October 2000 at the end of a highly successful UK tour and despite its length of 78:32 mins took just over 5 hours to lay down. The vibrancy of the playing and the close rapport between the musicians is evident from the first track.
The album features compositions from all Iles, Speake and Hopkins as well as two well known standards - Jobim's Luiza and The Thrill is Gone by Brown/Henderson.
Martin met Duncan at The Banff Centre for the Performing Arts while studying with Steve Coleman in 1991. He recently performed with Anthony at the Jersey Jazz Festival. Duncan and Anthony perform together in various projects in Canada and already have a strong rapport in their playing. Martin and Nikki have performed and recorded together as a duo in the past and are now augmenting their music with these Canadian musicians.
MARTIN SPEAKE (alto saxophone)
Alto saxophonist and composer Martin Speake first became known as founder member of the award winning saxophone quartet Itchy Fingers with whom he toured Europe, South America, Africa, USA and Britain and recorded two albums. Since leaving this group in 1988 he has performed, recorded and composed extensively with his own projects. These groups include duos with pianist Nikki Iles and guitarist Phil Lee, the free improvising trio Eternal Triangle, his 'world music' group Fever Pitch and the Martin Speake Group featuring John Parricelli. He has also collaborated with Paul Motian, Bobo Stenson, Loose Tubes, Flora Purim and Airto Moreira, Billy Jenkins, Bob Wilber, Django Bates, Stan Tracey, Don Weller Big Band and Bhavani Shankar among others.Martin's website
NIKKI ILES (piano)
Word had been out in musician's circles about Nikki Iles since way before she collected the John Dankworth Award for outstanding Individual at the 1996 British Jazz Awards. By then, as a member of the Creative Jazz Orchestra, she had already shared stages with Kenny Wheeler, Mike Gibbs, Vince Mendoza and Anthony Braxton, as well as composing her celebrated Printmakers Suite for an eight-piece version of that same band. She is a member of quartets led by Tina May, Geoff Simkins and Stan Sulzmann and has worked with most major British Jazz musicians on a freelance basis. As a composer she has received many commissions including The London Sinfonietta (Ellington Centenary) and New Perspectives (celebrating the work of Barbara Hepworth).
DUNCAN HOPKINS (double bass)
Duncan Hopkins has been busy establishing himself as a bassist and composer around the world. While primarily self taught, Duncan has studied with the best, including Michel Donato in Montreal, Rufus Reid at the Banff Centre for Fine Arts, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen in Denmark and Dave Holland in New York City. Aside from his own projects, he has become a popular sideman for a wide variety of artists such as: Mark Murphy, Lester Bowie, Kenny Wheeler, Peter Appleyard, and arrangers Robert Farnon and Ralph Carmichael. He is also the current bassist in the famed Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass.
ANTHONY MICHELLI (drums)
Anthony is a graduate of Mohawk College, has studied at the Banff Centre and the Lake Placid Centre for the Arts and has a Bachelor of Music from the University of Toronto specialising in Jazz Performance. He is also the recipient of the 1995 Jazz Report Award for National Post-Secondary School Musician of the Year. He has performed at various club and concert venues both nationally and internationally in large and small ensembles with various artists, some of which include: Anthony Braxton, Reggie Workman, Maria Schneider Jim McNeely, Harry Connick Jr., Dick Oates, Ingrid Jensen, Pat Labarbera, Ed Bickert and Don Thompson. Secret is available now at www.jazzcds.co.uk
"Secret is an album of jazz of a very high order from a group that puts to shame many much-hyped American bands." Andrew Vine, Yorkshire Post 13th April 2002
"...such an assured, absorbing set of music that it compels the listener whatever the tempo.." Chris Sheridan, Jazz Review - April 2002
"..modest little gem of intelligent but highly approachable small-band music." Dave Gelly, The Observer March 2002 Album of the Week
"Martin Speake plays some of the most gorgeous alto sax sounds in contemporary jazz…What is most impressive about the album is how four members of this brand new partnership are so finely attuned to each other's musical minds and nimble fingers." Phil Ehrensaft - The Whole Note, Canada, October 2002
" An album equally strong on melody and harmony, rhythmic intricacies and broadly phrased beautifully "breathing" passages…..spacious cross-rhythms and purposive drive, distilled reflection and cooking swing distinguish this excellent, superbly recorded release." Michael Tucker. Jazz Journal Dec 2002
"Timing is everything in jazz, and not just during performances. As the quartet led by saxophonist Martin Speake and pianist Nikki Iles embarks on a long tour of the UK, it is in danger of being sidelined by a slew of starrier jazz acts with the same idea. But it will be an injustice if this responsive, resourceful and thematically original ensemble doesn't get the audiences it should.....This is jazz-jazz, not fusion, and there's no electronic enhancement, unless you count microphones. But it's acoustic quartet playing a very long way up the league". John Fordham, The Guardian 30th September 2000.