REVIEW: Tori Freestone Trio El Barranco Album Launch at the 606 Club

Tori Freestone at the Manchester Jazz Festival 2014
Photo credit: David McLenachan/mjf

Tori Freestone Trio.
(606 Club, 27th July 2016. El Barranco CD launch. Review by Patrick Hadfield)


On a hot, humid evening, Tori Freestone led her trio into the cool basement of the 606 Club to launch their latest CD, El Barranco (Whirlwind Recordings). The music was cool, too - not unemotional, her breathy saxophone playing creating fluid and engaging solos. She was joined by long-term collaborators Dave Manington on bass and Tim Giles on drums, who have played on both her debut CD, In The Chop House, and on the current release.

They opened with the title track from the new record, which takes it name from the Spanish name for the Masca Gorge in Tenerife. Freestone spends much of her time on the island, and the piece is about one of her favourite places there. Playing in the lower range, she produced a rich tone, with lines of sinuous notes falling from her tenor saxophone.

On Manington's tune Challenger Deep, about the deepest part of the ocean, she made her saxophone growl, exploring the depths before she took a haunting solo. Manington took an extended solo, eloquently reaching the higher register.

The highlight of the first set was The Press Gang, which was originally commissioned by the London Jazz Festival. Based on a sea shanty, the piece started with Freestone's saxophone producing a mournful tone backed by Manington's bowed, almost drone-like bass. Giles' drums sounded like distant rumbling thunder as he produced roll after roll. Moving onto a faster section, the shanty became a dance, rushing ahead, which segued straight into Identity Protection.

The second set got under way with Pottering Around, another number from the first album, dedicated to Chris Potter, before playing Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now, taken as a slow ballad. Freestone's sax took on a plaintive quality, like a Scottish air on the pipes.

Another Manington piece followed, Quetzalcoatlus (the largest flying reptile, apparently!), during which the band let rip. Starting from a low rumble, they sped up for a series relatively free sections, culminating in an impressively energetic and imaginative solo by Giles.

After two more tunes from the new release, A Charmed Life and Cross Wired, Freestone lay down her saxophone and picked up a violin for the final number. Accompanied only by Manington's bowed bass, she played and sang the original shanty The Press Gang, from which she had developed her own piece. Freestone has a good voice, it was a mournful song of loss and betrayal that closed with a fast jig.

Giles was brought back on for the encore, Sam Rivers' Beatrice, a gentle number with a slight Latin feel that left the very appreciative audience feeling more upbeat as we headed back into the night.

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.

The Tori Freestone Trio play at the Vortex Jazz Club on 8 September, 2016, and Jazz In The Round at the Cockpit Theatre on 26 September, and on tour elsewhere in UK throughout the autumn. DATES

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