Earth Voices, Amanda Tosoff

Amanda Tosoff is a B.C-raised, Toronto-based pianist, composer, and educator with six albums to her credit. As a bandleader and side-woman, she has performed with internationally-recognized artists such as Emilie-Claire Barlow, Ingrid and Christine Jensen, Brad Turner, Phil Dwyer, and many more. Her own groups have been featured at festivals across Canada and abroad, and have opened for jazz luminaries such as Bobby Hutcherson, Renee Rosnes, Oliver Jones, and Luciana Souza. Amanda has received various honours, including the Montréal Jazz Festival Grand Prix de Jazz, and the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Jazz Artist Award – and most recently, a Juno nomination and mention on the Polaris Prize “Longer List,” for her album Words.

Through her richly varied body of work, Amanda has gained recognition as “an assured, forward-thinking voice” (Greg Buium, Vancouver Sun) on the Canadian jazz scene and beyond – not only as a composer and performer, but also as an educator. She is on faculty at Humber College, and has been a featured artist and clinician at universities and conferences, including the 2020 Canadian Jazz Summit at the University of Manitoba. Amanda is also co-artistic director of newly-founded online education company, Music Arts Collective, alongside bassist/educator Jodi Proznick and arts-administrator Francesca Fung.

In Amanda’s artistry, one hears a rigorous, deeply felt command of the jazz piano lineage as well as an eagerness to push beyond labels, finding inspiration from various sources and disciplines. This is most evident on Amanda’s recording Words, which featured highly-regarded singer Felicity Williams (of such bands as Broken Social Scene and Bahamas). Blending poetry, jazz, art-song and folk-pop, Words garnered great acclaim and revealed “a well-developed knack for animating her material with fine counterpoint and colourful sonic combinations” (Peter Hum, Ottawa Citizen). It also landed Amanda her first Juno nomination (Canada’s equivalent of the Grammys).

With Amanda’s sixth release as a leader, Earth Voices, she continues to pursue the creative and stylistic leap she began on Words, once again drawing on poetry with a deep personal and emotional connection. Along with strings and guest saxophonists Allison Au and Kelly Jefferson, she invites Alex Goodman, fellow Canadian and now one of New York’s most vital young guitarists, to work wonders and broaden her ensemble texture. She also enlists a sterling and versatile cast of singers — Emilie-Claire Barlow, Robin Dann, Michelle Willis, Alex Samaras, Laila Biali, Lydia Persaud and Felicity Williams — to give new life to words by Edgar Allan-Poe, Pablo Neruda, Rumi, Marjorie Pickthall and Walt Whitman, among other original material and inventive arrangements of songs by Joni Mitchell, Luciana Souza, Chris Thile and Mike Ross of Soulpepper Theatre. With a “calm demeanor and complete confidence” (Cadence), and with an honest, genuine and giving spirit, Tosoff stands poised to share with the world the next stages in her evolution.

Merging the deep, powerful messages of poetry with adventurous modern jazz, Toronto-based pianist/composer Amanda Tosoff leads a hybrid ensemble with strings and seven rotating vocalists on Earth Voices, the follow-up to her Juno Award-nominated 2016 release Words (“a grand achievement” – CBC Radio). The album is being released by Empress Music Group, a label and company founded by award-winning vocalist Emilie-Claire Barlow.

Earth Voices is Tosoff’s sixth album as a leader and the second to feature vocals. But whereas Words featured the marvelous singing of Felicity Williams straight through, Earth Voices adds six additional vocalists to the lineup in turn, each ideally suited to the song at hand. The compositions and orchestrations are sonorous, texturally rich, with a string quartet, guitarist Alex Goodman, and guest saxophonists Allison Au and Kelly Jefferson augmenting the lineup. The performances, full of eloquence and fire, are centered by Tosoff’s assured and lyrical pianism, revealing an artist at the peak of her powers.


Released January 29, 2021

Featuring the voices of:
Emilie-Claire Barlow, Laila Biali, Michelle Willis, Lydia Persaud, Robin Dann, Felicity Williams, and Alex Samaras

Kelly Jefferson (soprano sax), Allison Au (alto sax), Amanda Tosoff (piano), Alex Goodman (guitar), Jon Maharaj (bass), Morgan Childs (drums), Aline Homzy (violin), Jeremy Potts (violin), Laurence Schaufele (viola) Beth Silver (cello)

Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Rumi, Pablo Neruda and Marjorie Pickthall

Track 6 – Joni Mitchell
Track 5 – Mike Ross (Soulpepper Theatre)
Track 3 – Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer, Stuart Duncan, Aoife O’Donovan (from Yo-Yo Ma’s Goat Rodeo Sessions project)

All arrangements by Amanda Tosoff

Episode #263

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