Martin studied classical saxophone at Trinity College of Music where he met future jazz musicians, including pianist Simon Purcell, saxophonist Mark Lockheart and the members of saxophone quartet Itchy Fingers who were studying at the Academy.
He toured Europe, South America, Africa and the USA with Itchy Fingers, appearing at major jazz festivals and playing on their first two CDs Quark (Virgin Records) and Teranga (Venture). In 1986 they won the Schlitz Young Jazz Musicians of the Year Award, which was televised by the BBC. In 1988, he left the group to develop his own projects and establish himself as a composer and improviser. Martin is as comfortable playing personal interpretations of the music of Charlie Parker with his quartet, free improvising with drummer Mark Sanders, playing standard ballads in duet with Ethan Iverson and Indian music with Dharambir Singh and Sarvar Sabri. He has recorded 25 CDs under his own name of diverse projects including the internationally acclaimed ECM release Change Of Heart with Paul Motian, Bobo Stenson and Mick Hutton and Intention featuring Ethan Iverson, Fred Thomas and James Maddren.
Martin started Pumpkin, his own record label, in 2007 with which he has released 11 CDs. He plays in Spark (a duo with drummer/percussionist Mark Sanders), and Two Not One (a duo with guitarist Colin Oxley). He has released two albums with Barry Green, Dave Green and Jeff Williams entitled Generations and Live at the Riverhouse. He released Always a First Time featuring Mike Outram and Jeff Williams in 2013 and Sound Clouds in 2014 with improvising classical pianist Douglas Finch. The Quiet Mind with Mark Sanders and Oren Marshall was released in the same year. He released two further duo albums, Zephyr (with violinist Faith Brackenbury and Feathers (with pianist Alex Maguire). Martin also released two trio albums; Phelan Burgoyne’s Unquiet Quiet with Rob Luft and Duos For Trio -The Music Of Bela Bartok with Phelan and cellist Matthew Forbes.
Martin has also performed with Paul Motian, Sam Rivers, Bobo Stenson, Anders Mogensen, Liam Noble, Anders Christensen, Loose Tubes, Stan Tracey, Bhavani Shankar, Billy Jenkins, Terry Seabrook, Spike Wells, Jim Rattigan, Django Bates Delightful Precipice, Calum Gourlay Big Band, Bob Wilber, Conrad Herwig, Don Weller, Ronan Guilfoyle, Alison Bentley, The Style Council, Ann Pigalle, Kadam, saxophonist John Williams, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, Jim Mullen, Dave Cliff, Julian Arguelles, Ephie Resnick and the Royal Shakespeare Company, among others. He is lead alto saxophonist in the London Jazz Orchestra conducted by Scott Stroman and formed a co-operative project in 2016 to study and learn all the compositions of Thelonious Monk with valve trombonist Hans Koller and bassist Calum Gourlay.
Martin performs in the Martin Speake quartet, Charukesi (featuring Indian and Arabic inspired music), a quintet celebrating the music of Charlie Parker and other music from the jazz tradition, and a trio using Bartok violin duos. He also has international collaborations and recently toured the UK with Ethan Iverson, Jorge Rossy and Calum Gourlay and in Denmark with Hans Koller, Anders Christensen and Anders Mogensen. The latter collaboration released an album of Martin’s compositions called Universal Connection and can be heard here.
Martin is a committed jazz educator and in addition to the Academy, he teaches at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and GSMD and previously on the National Youth Jazz Collective Summer School. He also teaches privately. He was external examiner at Birmingham Conservatoire for several years and taught at Middlesex University. He began his teaching with the ILEA in their peripatetic instrumental music schemes throughout London schools in the 1980s. He is also involved in a British Jazz Oral History project of his own and has interviewed a number of important musicians such as Kenny Wheeler, Geoff Simkins, Dave Cliff, Pete Saberton and many others. Some of these interviews can be read on his website.
He has a BSc in Nutritional Medicine and has his own practice for people who want to improve their health through diet and lifestyle changes. Examples of his music are on his Youtube channel.