REVIEW: Tori Freestone Trio at the Vortex

Tori Freestone
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2015. All Rights Reserved

Tori Freestone Trio
(Vortex, 27 July 2015; review and drawing by Geoff Winston)

Tori Freestone's elegant tenor phrases floated in over Dave Mannington's soft, flowing bass lines and Tim Giles's lightly grazed brushwork with pointillistic sensitivity to set the tone for a beautifully balanced trio performance. Taking in compositions from the trio's much-praised debut album, In the Chop House, along with the airing of fresh material, earmarked for their second, and Freestone's 2014 London Jazz Festival commission, The Press Gang, both sets were marked out by warmth and depth in their expressive range.

Each of the trio is so well-attuned to the other's playing, which goes back through a range of collaborations over several years, that it was a rare moment when all three were not playing together - all that changed was the emphasis, allowing each to come to the fore, recede and re-emerge to support and take the initiative in different permutations.

Freestone was quietly assertive, winding in and out of riffs on the off-beat, bossa tinged El Barranco and the jaggedly funky Mrs PC, while Mannington's dulcet, sliding restraint took on the kind of authority that Dave Holland can impart. Giles slipped from softly dreamlike dynamics to a lightning crack with pace to boot, notably on Pottering About, a brightly energised nod to one of Freestone's favourite sax players, Chris Potter.

Their new ballad, Childlike, combined Freestone's breathy, low tones with a full drum sound underpinned by Mannington's emphatically slower pace in both scored and improvised passages.

There's a refined aesthetic to Freestone's playing. She can crawl all over the tunes, leaving nothing unnoticed or sidelined as she articulates their inherent riches, with an intuitive grace so well borne out in the encore, a peaceful, plaintive arrangement of Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now.

Tori Freestone Trio

Tori Freestone - tenor sax
Dave Mannington - double bass
Tim Giles - drums

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