Amanda Tosoff: Earth Voices

Poetry meets jazz again but this time it is sung to produce a melodically pleasing, thoughtful and absorbing album


Although schooled in the history of jazz piano, Amanda Tosoff has consistently sought inspiration from outside that world. In this instance, source material draws upon literature, in particular the poetry of several writers, including Walt Whitman, Pablo Neruda & Stephen Tapscott and Edgar Allan Poe.

Similarly, the musical sources range widely, including as they do four works by Tosoff, other composers including Joni Mitchell and Luciana Souza, all of which are arranged by the leader.

The core trio of piano, bass and drums is joined on some tracks by other instrumentalists: Kelly Jefferson appears once, Allison Au twice, Alex Goodman, Aline Homzy and Beth Silver appear four times, as does the string quartet. All of these musicians add to the attractive overall sound of this project. The listed singers appear either individually or in duo.

Unlike some earlier jazz/poetry works I have heard, here the poems are mostly not spoken but sung to the music, which is dominant throughout. Apart from the ensemble playing there are several very good solos, especially by Tosoff, Goodman and both saxophonists. Melodically pleasing, thoughtful and absorbing, this album should appeal to those who like music that stretches the mind yet is always accessible.

A Dream Within A Dream; Sonnet; Here And Heaven; Birdwings; Oh, Life; The Fiddle And The Drum; To A Stranger; Finis (45.51)
Tosoff (p) with collectively Kelly Jefferson (ss); Allison Au (as); Alex Goodman (g); Jon Maharaj (b); Morgan Childs (d); Aline Homzy (vn); Jeremy Potts, Laurence Schaufele (vla); Beth Silver (clo); Emilie-Claire Barlow, Laila Biali, Michelle Willis, Lydia Persaud; Robin Dann, Felicity Williams, Alex Samaras (v). Toronto, Canada, 2020.
Empress Music EMG702