Allison Au and the Migrations Ensemble – Migrations (ENG review)

Street Date October 27th 2023
Allison Au and the Migrations Ensemble – Migrations (ENG review)

The intellectual approach of this album resonates with me particularly, as I myself am an immigrant here in the USA, like many others, each of us for different reasons, often for economic reasons, or like me, for political reasons, having an insatiable need for freedom of speech and writing, which my home country, France, denied me. “Migrations” is a musical exploration of why people leave their homes to pursue their lives in a new country, and the resonating impact it has on future generations. It is an acoustic tribute to the complex yet universal act of migration, weaving lush soundscapes and mosaics with poignant and heart-wrenching lyrics.
Allison Au is a saxophonist and composer, marking a unique intellectual approach that captures the essence of the land I currently live in, where English, Spanish, and many other languages coexist, with English being the primary means of communication among people of diverse origins. “Migrations” is a musical suite conceptualized by saxophonist and composer Allison Au, a JUNO Award winner (pronounced “ow”). “Migrations” draws its emotions and depth from the immigration history of the Au family in Canada: from southern China and Malaysia on her father’s side, and war-torn Poland and Israel on her mother’s side.
At the core of every migration, there is always trauma; it is never easy to leave one’s homeland, even when it is unrecognizable due to conflicting values instilled in us as children, when one feels suffocated there, regardless of the reason. Finding happiness and radiance elsewhere, all these mixed feelings and emotions are perfectly conveyed here, both through the music and the lyrics, bearing witness to the feelings of trauma and upheaval shared by migrants of different backgrounds and circumstances. The lyrics of “Migrations” include words from poets such as Emma LaRocque, Ruth Padel, Rae Marie Taylor, Duncan Mercredi, Chief Dan George, Langston Hughes, and Wanda Coleman.
With an increasing number of migrations, Europeans are fleeing their lack of freedom and a deteriorating economy, while others seek to come to Europe, thinking it is a Nirvana, with the more intellectual ones staying for a short time and realizing it is not the hoped-for solution. Others are escaping unbearable living conditions in their countries and are willing to risk their lives for a better life elsewhere, which is true in the Mediterranean and at the American-American border. Luxury immigrants are those who decide to leave with full awareness and end up in ideal family conditions; in this case, only leaving their home country is a quickly healing wound.
This album, “Migrations,” encompasses a bit of all of this, a bit of all of us, a bit of our souls, a bit of our lives. Allison Au has created a valuable work, one that we deeply respect. Commissioned by the Royal Conservatory of Music, “Migrations” premiered at the 21C Music Festival at Koerner Hall in Toronto in January 2020. Her fourth studio recording and her most ambitious composition work to date, “Migrations” features Au’s longtime quartet musicians as the core of an expanded ensemble, including a vibraphone, a string quartet, and vocals.
The joint editorial teams of Bayou Blue Radio and Paris – Move award the “essential” label to an album that truly deserves it.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, October 9th 2023


Line up:
Allison Au: alto & soprano saxophones
Laila Biali: voice
Todd Pentney: piano, Prophet 6
Jon Maharaj: acoustic & electric bass
Fabio Ragnelli: drums, percussion
Michael Davidson: vibraphone
Aline Homzy: violin
Jeremy Potts: violin
Catherine Gray: viola
Amahl Arulanandam: cello

On sale here from October 27th

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