Pianist, composer Amanda Tosoff has just been honoured with a Juno nomination in the category of Vocal Jazz Album of the Year at the 2022 Juno Awards for her album Earth Voices.
Earth Voices, a merging of poetry and original composition, features seven vocalists each lending their beautiful voice to Amanda's melody.
Amanda produced the album in collaboration with recording engineer David Hermiston. Her arrangements are inventive, melodic and harmonically rich. The album also features a string section, and guest soloists Allison Au (alto sax), Kelly Jefferson (soprano sax) and New York based guitarist Alex Goodman. The rhythm section is rounded out by Jon Maharaj on bass, Morgan Childs on drums, and of course, Amanda on piano.
Earth Voices has accumulated over 650,000 streams since its release and is featured on prominent playlists such as Women of Jazz (Spotify) Contemporary Jazz (Amazon), The Pocket (Amazon) and Fresh Jazz (Amazon) and Singer's Delight (Apple Music). The album also hit the #1 spot on the iTunes Jazz Charts following its release.
The music crosses genres, moving around and within jazz, pop, art song. The result is a moving, magical and richly satisfying listening experience. Read more about the music and the voices behind Earth Voices in this review from All About Jazz.
Amanda Tosoff: Earth Voices
By DAN BILAWSKY Building off the lure of language planted in Amanda Tosoff's Juno-nominated Words ( 2016), this sixth album from the Toronto-based composer and pianist waves poetic in wondrous fashion. Pairing different guest vocalists and collections of musicians with personalized takes on Parnassian beauty of varied sorts, Tosoff cements the bonds between earthly voices and heavenly sounds with a questioning spirit. The list of subjects and styles, both in words and music, varies widely on this playlist. But this is no slapdash selection thrown together at will. Reason provides a place of purpose for everything in the mix. "A Dream Within a Dream," featuring vocalist Emilie-Claire Barlow and marrying Tosoff's music with Edgar Allan Poe's work, deals in doubt and uncertainty with both bright-eyed, upbeat accents and open engagement. "Sonnet 49," showcasing Robin Dann's voice, serves as an expansion on Luciana Souza's exploration of Pablo Neruda's emotional arc(s) with gliding grace and chamber-esque adorments. "Here and Heaven," adding weight and personality with strings, grooving like a pendulum swings, and featuring some ear-catching harmonizing from singers Michelle Willis and Alex Samaras , calls to mind the under-appreciated original—part of a decade-old collaboration between Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Aoife O'Donovan and Chris Thile. And Tosoff's musical investigation of Rumi's "Birdwings," with Samaras' absorbing Kurt Elling-meets-Theo Bleckmann interpretation, tackles topics tied clearly to today—loss, moving forward, finding solid footing—with both sensitivity and strength. While each of the aforementioned pieces arrives from different angles, their themes almost seem to be working in sympathy, building toward "Oh, Life." Vocalist Laila Biali, offering aching beauty with some help from Samaras, takes on the work of Mike Ross (of Soul Pepper Theatre) and, with Tosoff's sensitive structural refinements surrounding her, creates a meditation on existence and departure. Lydia Persaud's spellbinding delivery of Joni Mitchell's constantly relevant "The Fiddle and the Drum" follows, playing to its own clear truths, and Felicity WIlliams' strings-supported look at Walt Whitman's "To a Stranger" and Barlow's mighty and melodious handling of Marjorie Pickthall's poetry prove wholly complementary to the cross-threaded notions that Tosoff adopts. Despite the dizzying array of influences that inform Earth Voices, there's remarkable consistency and clarity across this program. Tosoff never seems far from home, regardless of reach, and her vision for how to shape these poems and pieces (through her writing and playing), what each represents, and who to tap to bring each one to life, proves profound. Whether taken as a broad glance at authentic existence, a clear address on a compatibility of art forms or a survey of some of Canada's most notable vocal and instrumental talent(s), Earth Voices earns high marks.