Martin Speake has set up a new band called Mafarowi. He explained the background to it (and the band’s name) to Sebastian Scotney:
LondonJazz News: What has led you to set up Mafarowi?
Martin Speake: I have rekindled my interest in this music which is Indian/ Arabic/ Turkish- influenced. 20 years ago I had the band Fever Pitch (we put out a CD on Village Life, drummer Paul Clarvis’s label) performing this music, and toured the UK with it.
That group was 7 piece with 3 percussionists. I felt the need to have a smaller more flexible group which approaches the music in a different way and with these musicians bringing their own influences to the tunes.
LJN: The band name looks like it is based on the musicians’ names….Who are they?
MS: Yes it is. I have been playing with younger musicians Rob Luft guitar, Will Glaser drums/percussion and Faith Brackenbury violin/voice in other projects and wanted to do a smaller lineup of the Fever Pitch material and other pieces.
Rob and Will are involved in many diverse Jazz areas and Faith is from a folk tradition, studied classical violin, played Hot Club music and is also a great vocalist which brings another quality to the music.
LJN: Can you give the uninitiated a quick guide to what’s going on musically here? Turkish influences as in the video above? And other influences too?
MS: Although there is one Turkish tune, the influences mainly are Rabih Abou Khalil (Oud player from Lebanon), Karnataka College of Percussion (South Indian Ensemble), L Subramaniam and many other Indian artists but through my own sensibility and my jazz background.
The music doesn’t have chord sequences but explores rhythm and melodic development and improvising rather than harmony.I originally wrote this material to force myself to attempt to play in other times part from 4/4 in the 1990’s. It seems right to attempt it again!
LJN: Is there any improvisation?
MS: Lots! Some of which I want to limit on the scale of the piece and other tunes are more flexible and can be freer melodically and harmonically.
LJN: You’re playing Leighton House. Is this the first public gig? Where else are you appearing / hoping to appear?
Yes this is the launch. Dates are being added on my website.
– The next one is Vortex on the 14th February
– Then Karamel Club on the 18th February.
Mafarowi at Leighton House