I love the sound of the saxophone,” says Italian jazz master Tommaso Starace.

“The sound that it produces is very close to the voice of a human being. It can display so many colours in its tone, and therefore create many emotions,” he goes on.

“I’m obviously referring to the saxophone in a jazz context because in classical music, it does exactly the opposite!”

Tomasso is a modern legend. Raised and trained in Milan, the son of a Neapolitan mother and Australian father, he is a respected alto sax player who has performed around the world.

He is also a regular visitor to Oxford, and on Saturday makes his fifth trip to play at the city’s new home of jazz, St Giles Church, in Woodstock Road.

“St Giles is an amazing church with the most beautiful acoustics,” he says. “In most churches I have played, the sound doesn’t suit our music as you have to be able to hear the bass and drums well in order to keep good timing, stay together and interact successfully. Most often it disappears with long echoes.

“But in St Giles the sound has a mixture of dry and echo – the right natural reverb for all instruments – so it’s highly enjoyable to perform there.

“Because of the acoustics I decided to chose St Giles in February to record the first Cello Suite by Bach on my soprano saxophone. This project will take me to six different churches across the UK in each of which I will record a suite.”

Saturday’s show, though, his all jazz, with the maestro performing jazz standards with is Blue Note Trio. “There will be a lot of those unforgettable tunes recorded on the famous Blue Note label founded in 1939,” he says.

“I will be performing with two incredible musicians: Dominic Howles on bass and Marco Quarantotto – whose surname means ‘48’ – on drums.

“The idea with the trio is to be less restricted by the harmony which would usually be provided by a piano or guitar and focus more on interaction and freedom in scale and harmonic choice.

“There will be lots of adrenaline pouring out of us and we hope to hit the audience with it.

“We will be performing tunes by Dizzy Gillespie (Be Bop), Benny Golson (Along Came Betty), British pianist Victor Feldman (Seven Steps to Heaven) and tunes by Charlie Parker and other great jazz performers and composers.”

Tomasso’s love of all things artistic began, predictably, at an early age – though, initially, it looked like acting would be his calling.

“Art had always been at the centre of my life,” he says. “My father and mother took me and my brother to exhibitions and I was introduced very young to classical music and jazz.

“My hero, still to this day, has been actor Robert De Niro because of his powerful performances and many incredible characters he played in iconic movies. So between the age of 12 and 17, I did acting school.

“It was also a good way for me to escape from reality, which at times wasn’t that inspiring, and put myself in the shoes of someone else and through imitation and feeling that person inhabit a different world.

“Later on in life, around the age of 17, I started feeling the desire to escape less from myself and get to know myself better, and I found it increasingly harder to pretend to be someone else through imitation and acting.

“I guess that’s when my interest in drama school started to fade away and I looked for something else that could make me express my feelings.

“My father listened to many jazz records and I remember that the sound of the saxophone always intrigued me as it was so close to the human voice: expressive, sensual, melancholic, happy, powerful and aggressive, imperfect with the notes bending, the sound of the saliva in the low register of the instrument, the growling and many other effects one could obtain on the instrument.

“One alto saxophonist that I fell in love with was Cannonball Adderley. He had such a great exuberance for life that you could hear it in every note he played on his horn, on top of having an amazing technique, and an incredible CV. He pretty much played with all the greats of his time because he was great!

“The sound of the saxophone is what made me want to start music and get into jazz. I always say that if the saxophone didn’t exist I probably would be doing a different profession.”

So aged 18, he picked up the alto sax and mastered it quickly – storming though GCSE and A-level music in just two years.

“My passion for jazz has come out of listening to music from the bebop and hard-bop era of the 1940s and 50s,” he says. “I love the black American culture, the soulfulness of that community of people and they way they managed to transfer their feeling into the jazz idiom in those times and actually before and after.

“Swing, I guess, is something that I was immediately attracted to and it’s what makes the style of those times so attractive to listen to.

“So I try and incorporate this element in my music and have done so in my first four CDs.

“Later on in my career, I decided to focus more on melody and less on the groove or swing of a piece, so composers such as Ennio Morricone and Randy Newman became an inspiration for my writing which acquired more of a cinematic flavour – though people often say that I have always written melodic tunes even on my swing albums.

“I guess my background in acting and my love for cinema have influenced the way I write music, hence the cinematic and catchy melodies.

“I also enjoy playing covers, of course, and I have recorded tunes by Stevie Wonder (Overjoyed), Chick Corea, Ennio Morricone (Cinema Paradiso), and Randy Newman (Dexter’s Tune from the film Awakenings).

“I love incorporating with originals the classic standards, so that jazz aficionados enjoy the combination of both”If I record standards, I tend to chose unusual ones that have rarely been recorded previously by other jazz artists so that I don’t fall into doing a similar album to others.

“The songs that I write often develop from melodies that I hear in my head – mostly when I least expect them. I could be walking in the street and suddenly I start humming a melody and, if it has potential, I try and record it on my phone.

“Music, to me, is like a dream; if I don’t make a note of it, I forget it quickly!

"Some of the best compositions I have composed are written in a few hours and they are very strong melodically and harmonically. Other times I need a few days to complete one.

"It’s funny because sometimes you get stuck in a composition and you think there’s no way you can complete it, but if I take a break from it for a day or so and then sit down and work on it, things seem to progress.

"It’s just like painting: if you stare at it for too long, you seem to loose the overall picture, but by taking a break from it you start seeing things that can be added or taken off and eventually complete it."

And it's not just cinema that influences Tomasso's music; it's also photography.

"One of my trademarks is to compose music to images in black and white," he says.

"I have dedicated albums to the images of Magnum Photographer Elliott Erwitt and Italy’s most celebrated black and white photographer, Gianni Berengo Gardin.

"Again my love for cinema brings me to compose music on images – something I find very natural and direct. I just need to look at an image (particularly the old iconic black and white ones) and I can immediately hear a tune in my head which fits the image.

"Next I want to compose music to the images of war photographer Robert Capa. Most probably the album will be entitled Jazz at War.

"In concert I have enjoyed performing the music with the images projected onto a large screen so that the audience can experience a jazz-cinematic concert.

"I loved the sound of it. I had difficulties deciding which type of saxophone to play. It was either going to be the alto or tenor saxophone. I listened a few times to the Bossa Nova album featuring Stan Getz and then to the one with Cannonball on Something Else and in the end I opted for the alto saxophone because it seemed to be more lyrical particularly in the high register.

"But then again the tenor saxophone seems to be closer to the human voice and has such a lush and sensual sound particularly in the bottom notes.

"Later in my career I started playing the soprano saxophone which I enjoy very much to this day: the delicate sound it produces allows me to be more melodic and play less notes then on the alto saxophone.

"Maybe because the alto saxophone was my first choice I felt I needed to sound like some of my heroes and play more ‘vertically’ and be busier with notes and show case my technique. But on the soprano I don’t feel I need to do this."

* Tommaso Starace and the Blue Note Trio play St Giles Church, Oxford, on Saturday. Doors at 7pm. Tickets from jazzatstgiles.com