Chris Speed

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Chris Speed
Chris speed E5122058 12.jpg
Speed at Moers Festival in 2008
Background information
Born 1967
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Genres Avant-garde jazz, free jazz, free improvisation
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Saxophone, clarinet
Labels Skirl
Associated acts Pachora, Human Feel, The Clarinets, yeah NO, Endangered Blood, Trio Iffy
Chris Speed performing in Aarhus,
Denmark (2010)
Photo: Hreinn Gudlaugsson

Chris Speed (born Seattle, Washington, 1967) is an American saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer.[1]

Early years[edit]

He studied classical piano from the age of five, and began clarinet at eleven. In high school he took up the tenor saxophone and began studying jazz. He later attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Speed has lived in New York City since 1992.[1]


He leads or co-leads the groups Pachora (with Jim Black, Skúli Sverrisson, and Brad Shepik); Human Feel (with Andrew D'Angelo, Black, and Kurt Rosenwinkel); The Clarinets (with Oscar Noriega and Anthony Burr), yeah NO (with Black, Sverrisson, and Cuong Vu); Trio Iffy (with Ben Perowsky and Jamie Saft), Endangered Blood (with Black, Noriega and Trevor Dunn) and the Chris Speed Trio (with Dave King and Chris Tordini). The latter groups predominantly feature Speed's compositions.

Speed has performed with the avant-garde jazz groups Bloodcount (Tim Berne, Jim Black, Michael Formanek, and sometimes Marc Ducret); The Claudia Quintet (John Hollenbeck, Matt Moran, Ted Reichman, and Drew Gress); Alasnoaxis (Jim Black, Sverrisson, and Hilmar Jensson); and Heroic Frenzies (Craig Taborn, Dave King, and Chris Lightcap).

In partnership with other NY musicians the like of Jim Black, bassist Skuli Sverrisson, and guitarist Brad Shepik he participated in band Pachora, which was formed in 1992. Pachora was playing music from Greece, Bulgaria ans Macedonia. Evolving from this Speed began using the melodies of Balkan music interpreting it into jazz-based music. Being a part of the Pachora he made a lot of performances throughout North America and Europe and playing in their original manner - Pachora 1997, Unn 1999, Ast 2000 and Astereotypical 2003. Speed also took part in the traditional Slavic Soul Party in the period of 1996-2004 showing his involving with the East European music. He was experimenting with clarinet improvisation in trio "The Clarinets" with Oscar Noriega and Anthony Burr. They created "an acoustic ambient music of unusual grace and beauty" issuing two albums "The Clarinets" 2006 and "Keep On Going Like This" 2012. In 1996 Speed based the band "Yeah NO" and released an unusual mixture of "free jazz, modern rock, eastern folk and minimalism". In April 2006 he issued Skirl Records - a brand dedicated to creative music of Brooklyn which now has 31 releases.[2]


Chris Speed in Aarhus, Denmark. Photos: Hreinn Gudlaugsson


  • the rising star clarinetist in Downbeat magazine for 2004, 2005 and 2006.
  • the recipient of a NEA composition grant in 1993, and in 2004
  • the guest soloist at the Copenhagen International Jazz Festival


As leader[edit]

  • 1997 Yeah No (Songlines)
  • 1999 Deviantics (Songlines)
  • 2000 Trio Iffy (Knitting Factory)
  • 2000 Emit (Songlines)
  • 2004 Swell Henry (Squealer)
  • 2014 Really OK (Skirl)
  • 2014 Ruins (Skirl)
  • 2017 Platinum on Tap (Intakt)

with Endangered Blood:

  • 2011 Endangered Blood (Skirl)
  • 2013 Work Your Magic (Skirl)

with The Clarinets:

  • 2006 The Clarinets (Skirl)
  • 2011 Keep On Going Like This (Skirl)

with Pachora:

  • 1997 Pachora (Knitting Factory)
  • 1999 Unn (Knitting Factory)
  • 2000 Ast (Knitting Factory)
  • 2003 Astereotypical (Winter & Winter)

with Human Feel:

  • 1989 Human Feel (Human Use)
  • 1992 Scatter (GM)
  • 1994 Welcome to Malpesta (New World)
  • 1996 Speak to It (Songlines)
  • 2007 Galore (Skirl)
  • 2016 Party Favor

With Tim Berne's Bloodcount

With Jim Black's AlasNoAxis

With Uri Caine

With Dave Douglas

With Erik Friedlander

With Jamie Saft

With Craig Taborn

with Jimmy Chamberlin Complex

With Armen Nalbandian

  • V (Blacksmith Brother Music, 2018)


  1. ^ a b Chris Speed at All About Jazz Archived November 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Speed Retrieved on 27 Jan 2018

External links[edit]