WORKS: Martin Speake: Charlie Parker
PERFORMER: Martin Speake (alto sax), Mike Outram (guitar), Simon Thorpe (bass), Dave Wickins (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: JITCD 0536
It is 50 years since jazz music’s most influential soloist died in the Manhattan apartment of Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter. Yet his influence remains strong on young players such as the superb British saxophonist Martin Speake. The influence is not always obvious on this album. Although Speake covers some classic Parker numbers here (such as ‘Crazeology’ and ‘My Old Flame’) his tribute to Bird comes over not so much as a recreation of the music – more a personal reflection on the great man’s work. Indeed, Speake’s tone and technique is well removed from Parker’s.
Where Parker played like a force of nature, Speake is more the reserved intellectual; where Parker’s sound was cutting, almost abrasive, Speake’s is sweetly engaging. With the alto at the centre of attention, the pretty arrangements are handled lightly but attentively by the rhythm section. Mike Outram’s fleet solo guitar runs are likewise a perfect complement to the leader’s intricate ruminations. A worthy tribute. Garry Booth