Martin Speake/Alcyona Mick Duo Tour (19-29 April)

Saxophonist Martin Speake and pianist Alcyona Mick have both played in the London Jazz Orchestra for a decade. And yet, despite the fact that both musicians are accomplished, creative composers and performers, they have never worked together outside of LJO except for a short-lived quintet with Scott Stroman. This April, that is put right with a nine-date duo tour. Preview by Charles Rees:

Martin Speake has a long tradition of bringing top-tier international performers over to the UK for his tours. Previous years have seen Paul Motian, Ethan Iverson, Jorge Rossy, John Hollenbeck and several others. One of the more reoccurring musical partnerships has been with Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson, dating back to Speake’s quartet with Paul Motian in the 90s and culminating in his acclaimed 2006 ECM release, Change of Heart. Over the following years, the two continued to perform and were scheduled for a tour of the UK this April. However, an illness affecting a member of Stenson’s family forced him to pull out of the tour, leaving Speake in need of a duo partner…

Alcyona Mick seemed an obvious name – the two have played together in the London Jazz Orchestra for many years and Speake is genuinely enthusiastic about her work: “I have always loved Alcyona’s playing and compositions”. Yet their work together outside of LJO is limited and has never been part of a project by either as a leader. Challenges and misfortunes also bring new opportunities: “I asked Alcyona to replace Bobo, and luckily she was free in April”.

Speake continues: “Alcyona has great ears, is a great reader and improviser and has different influences in music from me… so a contrast to my conception in some ways. Although, of course, she knows a lot of music and plays structured pieces, she is equally versed in free improvisation. I feel the music can go anywhere with Alcyona, and by playing with her, maybe it will bring out some new approaches in me.” Speake works with a variety of influences, his music having explored bebop, free, Indian classical music and contemporary British jazz.

Their tour will see them perform at nine different venues across England, starting on 19 April and finishing ten days later. Two of their appearances (*) – at Vortex and Watermill Jazz – will also feature bassist James Owston and drummer Tristan Mailliot. The full list of dates and venues is below:


19 April: Anteros Arts Foundation (Norwich)

20 April: Sage Gateshead

21 April: Wakefield Jazz Club

22 April: Stoller Hall (Manchester)

23 April: Zeffirellis (Ambleside)

*24 April: Vortex Jazz Club (London)

*25 April: Watermill Jazz (Dorking)

27 April: Bath Spa University (evening concert + lunchtime masterclass)

29 April: Verdict Jazz Club (Brighton)

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