Professor Tori Freestone

Tori Freestone (Credit Rob Blackham)

Image by Rob Blackham


Job Title: Principal Lecturer

Courses Taught: BA (Hons) Music (Jazz)

Specialisms: Saxophonist, flautist, violinist, composer, Jazz and Improvised music

Saxophonist, flautist and violinist Tori Freestone began her career aged 7 performing in folk clubs and now performs at the forefront of the UK jazz scene as both highly regarded bandleader and in demand sidewoman. She is known for her robust tenor sound and melodic invention and her highly personal and distinct voice which has been strongly influenced by her upbringing in Latin and folk music. As a composer Freestone’s writing balances wit with playfulness while exploring new ways to blur the lines between the written and improvised. She likes to compose for unusual instrumentation that challenges traditional compositional and improvisational techniques.

In 2017 she was shortlisted for the Parliamentary Jazz Awards Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year and the Arts Foundation Award for Jazz Composition. She received Arts Council England support for her 2016 and 2019 Trio tours, a 2017 tour with 'Solstice' (a co-led sextet with John Turville (Tim Garland/Dave Binney) and Brigitte Beraha) and her 2018 duo tour with pianist Alcyona Mick (Natasha Atlas).

In addition to performing with these critically acclaimed projects, Freestone features in many of the UK’s most exciting ensembles: The UK All Star Big Band with Hermeto Pascoal, with Yazz Ahmed (as featured soloist on her new album Polyhymnia), Ingrid and Christine Jensen, the Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra alongside Stan Sulzmann and Jason Yarde, the London Jazz Orchestra (where she holds the Tenor 1 chair), the Nikki Iles Big Band alongside Gwilym Simcock and Mike Walker, Ivo Neame (Phronesis) Quintet/Octet, US trumpeter Andre Canniere’s Sextet alongside Tom Farmer (Empirical), Alec Dankworth's 'Spanish Accents' featuring guitarist Phil Robson, Rory Simmons’ Fringe Magnetic alongside Jasper Hoiby, Ivo Neame and Jamie Cullum, Neil Yates’ ‘Surroundings’ alongside Iain Ballamy, the Asaf Sirkis Quartet, 'Compassionate Dictatorship' alongside Jasper Hoiby (Phronesis) and Cuban group 'Orquesta Timbala'. 

But it is Freestone's trio that has gained her much attention as of late. Comprised of long-time musical associates in uber-creative drummer Tim Giles and the highly original bassist Dave Manington, Freestone has been developing her own repertoire which explores the openness that the saxophone trio allows while taking inspiration from some of the non-chordal sax led trios of the moment and the folk and Latin music that formed a large part of her upbringing. The Trio’s debut album ‘In the Chophouse’ (2014) achieved wide critical acclaim in the UK and abroad including ‘All About Jazz’ top 10 Jazz albums of the year and a commission by the EFG 2014 London Jazz Festival followed with a performance at the Purcell Rooms alongside Henry Texier and the Hope Quartet. Her second Trio album ‘El Barranco’ (2016) led to similar acclaim and was a Europe Jazz Network’s Jazz Media Chart top pick. Most recently her third Trio album ‘El Mar de Nubes’ (2019) has garnered four star reviews in the UK, France, Germany, Austria and the States. The album was featured in the Guardian newspaper as Jazz Album of the month June 2019.

Freestone has performed at many festivals and concert halls in the UK and abroad including the North Sea, Elb, Cork, Glastonbury, Cheltenham, and Brecon Jazz Festivals, La Zorro y El Cuevo (Cuba), the Bimhuis (Holland), Ronnie Scott's and the Royal Albert Hall. As a bandleader she has featured and headlined at the Reykjavik (Iceland), Leibnitz (Austria), Sudtirol (Italy), London, Emotion (Germany), Haskovo (Bulgaria), La Laguna (Spain) and Manchester Jazz Festivals and the QEH, RFH, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Neumunster Cultural Centre (Luxembourg), Skein Jazz (Norway) the 606 Club and the Vortex. She has recorded live and given interviews for BBC Radio 2 and 3, Jazz FM, ORF (Austria National Radio), Radio Bremen, Jazzwise and Downbeat magazines. This autumn she tours with Christine and Ingrid Jensen and the Whirlwind Recordings Jazz Orchestra including a concert at the Purcell Room during the EFG London Jazz Festival.

She is a Borgani artist alongside the likes of Joe Lovano, Will Vinson and Tim Garland. As an educator she has lectured at Trinity College of Music, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Royal Academy of Music and Middlesex University. She currently holds the position of Senior Lecturer at Leeds Conservatoire and regularly tutors on the National Youth Jazz Collective Summer School alongside Norma Winstone, Dave Holland, Soweto Kinch and Laura Jurd.

Press quotes:

"I really dig her; she’s so organic.. She sounds very relaxed, but she’s got a real burn to her playing on the tenor ears never get tired" - Ingrid Jensen Artist Choice Jazz Times, USA

"Freestone has caused a stir far beyond the UK…an impressive, original and formidable trio" - Leibnitz Jazz Festival review, Austria

"Freestone has clearly listened widely, but her musicality and broad experiences have stirred all that input into an imposingly original sound" -  The Guardian, UK


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