Secret

COMPOSERS: Martin Speake
LABELS: Basho
PERFORMER: Martin Speake (as), Nikki Iles (p), Duncan Hopkins (b), Anthony Michelli (d)
CATALOGUE NO: SRCD 3-2 (distr. Mach Two)

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After playing together for only two weeks on the road, this Anglo-Canadian group considered making a Lennie Tristano tribute. In the end the musicians brought original tunes to a five-hour recording session and did their own thing. Yet the music does have some of the detached, intellectual West Coast feel that pianist Tristano imposed on his groups in the early Fifties. The cool sound is updated by owlish leader Martin Speake.

Though clearly influenced by Lee Konitz (a pupil of Tristano’s), he sweetens the sour tones of the alto and holds the tune a little closer. Speake is particularly impressive on the slow numbers, coiling and uncoiling around the melody. Pianist Nikki Iles, the other half of the English contribution, is well tuned to Speake’s oblique movements but is more purposeful in her own solo parts, warming up her choruses with a little hard bop spice.

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Canadian bassist Duncan Hopkins initiated the project and together with drummer Anthony Michelli makes an implacable rhythm section, putting a gently rolling boil under the soloists. This is honest jazz, with no gimmicks, egos or effects, played with empathy by four like-minded souls. Garry Booth