Loz Speyer's music combines a cutting-edge playful and subversive spirit with a melodic sense deeply rooted enough to draw people in, with or without their having jazz ears.
Taking in a broad sweep of the vast music culture available, and with a central focus on jazz throughout, Loz Speyer's career includes performance work with: Yann Tiersen (la Route du Rock festival 2010), Test Department (ICA 1991), Brian Abrahams, Tony Bianco (touring and debut CD with Loz Speyer Quartet), Clifford Jarvis, Amancio daSilva, Alex Maguire (big band and small group), the John Bennett Band, Steve Buckley, Disassembler with Mark Lockheart, Hugh Metcalf, Tony Marsh (improv trio), the London Improvisers Orchestra, the Bollywood Brass Band, the Happy End (Canadian and European Jazz festivals, two LPs), poet and author Michael Rosen (with local world-jazzers the Dulce Tones), Sarah Jane Morris (with Happy End 1980s, with her band 2012 at Purcell Room),... and in Cuba with veteran trumpeter Inaudis Paisán, Orquesta Chepín-Chovén, and Trio Acorde with Marcos Fernandez (pianist now with Eliades Ochoa).
Perhaps best known for his own bands Time Zone (with Martin Hathaway, Stuart Hall etc) and Inner Space Music (with Chris Biscoe, Rachel Musson etc), Speyer has been leading and composing for both groups since 2003, developing and honing the distinct sound of each. Both bands have toured the UK and released two albums each to date. Time Zone played a week at Ronnie Scotts opposite Airto Moreira, and has toured extensively.
Since 2001, Speyer has spent some extended periods in Santiago de Cuba, studying percussion, recording and transcribing, and working with local Son bands. In 2005 he recorded three Time Zone pieces with a Cuban band, one of which was later released on the Babel label compilation Now’s the Time II. And his collaboration Proyecto Evocación, with master percussionist Rafael Cisneros (of Ballet Folklorico Cutumba) featured in Santiago's Festival del Caribe, resulting in the CD Roots en Route – Raices en Viaje (2010 Spherical Records).
Returning to his small group jazz roots, Speyer recently re-formed and renamed his own Loz Sphere Quartet (featuring Danish guitarist Kristian Borring) which plays a mix of Thelonious Monk's music and his own jazz compositions.
As a composer for larger ensembles, Loz was a founder member of the innovative 12-piece Rare Mix (1995-2000) which brought together the unusual combination of Jason Yarde, Brian Abrahams, Pete Saberton, Ben Davis, Martin Hathaway, Simon Picard, Julian Seigel etc... and featured collective compositions by this star studded team of bandleaders. In 2000 Rare Mix recorded an album Everything is Possible, yet to be released...
His big band arrangements have been performed and recorded by jazz orchestras at the Guildhall School of Music and Morley College, as well as by Rare Mix... and his extended arrangement for Octet of the Bastille Concerto, composed by Clifford Jarvis' father, formed a centrepiece in the memorial concert at the Spitz in honour of this great jazz drummer.
Speyer's teaching work, which he fulfills with a passion, ranges from small group trumpet lessons and whole class band workshops with school children, to leading workshop rehearsals of his own compositions with diploma students at the Guildhall School of Music.
Seminal musical / learning experiences include:
- as a teenager, informal jazz lessons with trumpeter Henry Lowther.
- aged 21, a 3 months stay working in New York City - lessons with guitarist Bob Johnston, workshops at University of the Streets with Clarence Sharpe, and hearing the likes of Cedar Walton, Sun Ra Arkestra and Cecil Taylor Octet at close quarters in small venues.
- aged 22, improvisation workshops with John Stevens at the London Musicians' Collective, when he was developing his Search and Reflect concept.
- Jazz theory classes with David Baker at the Jamie Aebersold summer school at a time when he was still developing his concept the Bebop Scale.
- 3 weeks' travel with a cassette recorder in Morocco including an all-night Berber wedding on new year's eve, during which it sank in that everyone there could accurately clap complex 6/8 polyrhythms, just for fun.
- inspirational trumpet lessons with Charles Greene at Sweelink Conservatory, Amsterdam
- a year as composition and trumpet student on the Jazz Diploma course at the Guildhall School of Music with groups to compose for ranging from quartet to 10-piece to big band (1992-3)- and recording orchestral jazz suite the Forest with the college big band.
- in Cuba 2005, finding out in a heated rehearsal situation that the clave really does change one's perception of the beat...! and in a street gig by Pupy y Los Que Son Son, hearing 3000 people singing along with all the coros...
- Last but not least, since 1991 attending workshops and retreats with Qigong master Zhixing Wang, founder of the Hua Gong school of Qigong – and teaching the fundamental practise in evening classes and one day workshops.