Juno-winning saxophonist and composer Allison Au has announced her highly anticipated fourth album Migrations.
All three of Au’s previous recordings were nominated for Juno Awards, with 2016’s Forest Grove winning best group jazz album. The bandleader’s last album was 2018’s Wander Wonder.
Here, Au returns with an ambitious project that explores “why people leave their homes to pursue life in a new land, and the reverberating impact it has on future generations,” according to the album’s synopsis. “It is an acoustic tribute to the complex but universal human act of migration, weaving lush, mosaic-like dreamscapes with poignant, heartrending lyrics.”
Migrations draws from Au’s family history of immigration to Canada: from Southern China and Malaysia on her father’s side and war-torn Poland and Israel on her mother’s side.
“Migrations is one of the most important pieces of music I have created because it is so personal,” Au says. “It speaks to my identity as a Canadian born to immigrant parents and delves into subject matter that I previously attempted to articulate, but never found the project through which to do so.”
The 13-track recording features the musicians of Au’s longstanding quartet — pianist Todd Pentney, bassist Jon Maharaj and drummer Fabio Ragnellli — as the core of an expanded ensemble that includes vibraphone, a string quartet, and vocals, by Laila Biali. The lyrics of Migrations feature the words of poets including Emma LaRocque, Ruth Padel, Rae Marie Taylor, Duncan Mercredi, Chief Dan George, Langston Hughes and Wanda Coleman.