Martin Speake

The Tan T'ien

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AllMusic Review by Steve Loewy

There are times when the parts do not quite add up to the whole, and this recording is an example of this. Martin Speake is a talented alto saxophonist and his partner, pianist Nikki Iles, exhibits strong chops. Nonetheless, there is a sense of unfulfilled potential, particularly among the composed tunes, which take up half the space. These are played conservatively, and even the self-proclaimed influences of Ravel and Bill Evans are not enough to rescue them from tedium. On the other hand, the nine improvisations, which were recorded when additional time was left over in the studio, are more creative and stimulating. Iles' classical roots are evident everywhere, and she has some difficulty with the free improvisations -- her solos sound a tad stilted. The potential for something more lies beneath the surface, but unfortunately, this recording is a disappointment.

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