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Tori Freestone Trio: Tori Freestone - In the Chop House

Phil Barnes By

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Tori Freestone is a name that will be familiar to those with an interest in the British Jazz of the last few years. A multi- instrumentalist she contributed flute and sax to Ivo Neame's excellent Yatra from 2012 but you may equally have come across her work with the likes of Rory Simmons or Neil Yates. This trio collection on emerging London indie label, Whirlwind, sees Freestone making the leap to band leader on record for the first time showcasing the tenor saxophone side of her undoubted talents.

As that CV implies Freestone is no rookie and there is an inherent high quality to the musicianship and improvised interplay within this pulsating, rhythmic, collection that would be a fine achievement for any musician irrespective of experience. The overall feel of the album is a musical equivalent of conversational sparring between the band members, with the proviso that the speed is so breathtaking and the understanding so good that they feel like one of those couples that complete each other's sentences. In jazz this is a good thing, although in real life less so!

The choice of trio format shows Freestone's self-confidence and faith in the abilities of the other band members. Trios have no room for passengers and to play pieces this nimbly there needs to be complete trust between the musicians, that mutual confidence to allow each the freedom to continue the conversation in their own way. The format gives plenty of space and this is exploited to great effect in the interplay between the musicians -for example between Freestone and bassist Dave Manington on "Bubble and Squeak" or "The Universal 4" or Freestone and drummer Tim Giles on closer "Pottering Around." Freestone summed it up in a recent interview "It's a challenge... roles are changing. The trio requires so much concentration, you can't let up at any moment."

There are also many references to influences -the sensitive sideways look at Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" being especially effective, with Freestone slipping into reverie under cover of bass, brushes and cymbal. There is also a nod & a wink to John Coltrane in "Mrs PC," or perhaps Freestone is also implying that this collection represents her own creative leap or Giant Steps? Last but by no means least there is the sympathetic reading of the old folk song "My Lagan Love" in a medley with "In the Chop House" -the latter thankfully a reference to a regular pub haunt of the band and musical expertise, rather than a particular love for the consumption of thickly sliced animal flesh.

Mention should also be made of the quality of the recording -produced by Freestone herself, with an Executive Producer credit to Whirlwind label boss Michael Janisch. The level of sonic depth and detail is fantastic, helping to involve the listener in the finer points of the musical dialogue. This absorbing collection heralds the arrival of a fine trio and a new talent in the thriving British jazz scene—here's to more good times around the corner.

Track Listing: 1. Bubble and Squeak; 2. The Universal 4; 3. Lonesome George; 4. Both Sides Now; 5.But Not For Me; 6. Mrs PC; 7. My Lagan Love - In the Chop House; 8. Pottering Around.

Personnel: Tori Freestone: tenor saxophone; Dave Manington: double bass; Tim Giles: drums.

Title: Tori Freestone - In the Chop House | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Whirlwind Recordings Ltd

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