A new year’s day trip to the summit of a volcano on Tenerife inspired the title track of jazz saxophonist Tori Freestone’s new album, El Mar de Nubes.
The tune, translated as ‘the sea of clouds’, came to her during one of her regular trips to the Canary Islands – somewhere she has a close affinity to.
‘My mother lives there,’ explains Tori, ‘and I’ve spent a lot of time out there since I was quite young. I speak Spanish I’ve got lots of Spanish friends from the island, so I try and spend a month every year out there.
‘I used to try and do it randomly, but now I prefer to block it out and go there in January when not much is happening. It’s lovely to go there and usually do some writing.
‘Writing this album, I was going through a particularly creative point in my life and I was very inspired by my surroundings. El Mar de Nubes came after walking up Mount Teide, a volcano, above the sea – you head up through the clouds and then you have this amazing view.
‘It was also the day of a supermoon so when it got to the night time it was brighter than the day time – it was an amazing way to start the year.
‘I’ve actually written words for that tune about seeing the world from other perspectives, and everything being turned upside down.’
The album is her third with her trio, completed by long-term colleagues Tim Giles on drums and Dave
Manington on bass.
‘I met Tim and Dave in college and played with them a lot and in other projects, so we’re quite like-minded, so I’ve known them for years.
‘They were also at the same school together, so they’ve known each other even longer – hence the good, strong rapport we seem to have with each other, from playing together so much.’
Although she has received acclaim for her playing, and has been in demand for numerous projects, tori came to the sax comparatively late in life.
Her family comes from a musical background – she was playing at folk clubs from seven – and the violin was her first love. She didn’t even pick up the sax until finishing college.
‘I’ve been playing for so long it feels more normal for me to be on stage than off, I feel like it’s really second nature and on some of the music on the album I play violin and sing.
‘Violin was my first choice when I was young, but I also played whistle on the folk stuff we used to do. There were always instruments lying around the house - there were lots of guitars around, because my dad played them, but no-one in my family played any wind instruments.
‘Whistles were what I honed in on and seemed to be a natural to, so although I played violin and still do, it always felt very natural to go to those instruments.
‘I studied at Leeds College as a flautist, so sax kind of makes sense – lots of people double-up on those two. I bought a soprano sax first then a tenor, and it felt incredibly natural.
‘I had been listening to saxophones for years – I’d been listening to jazz since I was a kid, so I had a sound in my head already before playing it, and it just seemed to make sense.
‘I put it off for a long time playing sax, I was very serious about being a jazz flautist and that’s what I’d been doing up to that point, but there was a point where I thought, I’ve got to do this.
‘I’m pleased I did it that way as I still see myself equally joint on flute and saxophone, not just a saxophone player.
‘Funnily enough back in Leeds a lot of people know me as a flautist, but down in London most people know me as a saxophone player.’
Tori Freestone Trio
Southampton Modern Jazz Club
Sunday, June 9