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Allison Au

Allison Au (pronounced "ow") is JUNO award winning saxophonist, composer and arranger. Highly regarded for her distinctive and imaginative voice, Allison has been lauded as “a new jazz ambassador” for Canada.

Born to a Chinese father and Jewish mother, and raised in the multicultural metropolis of Toronto, Allison fell in love with music as a young child. Her father’s eclectic collection of vinyls and CDs exposed her to a wide array of musical styles. Struggling to find a sense of belonging in her biracial identity, the unhinged freedom of improvisation captivated Allison and quickly became her lab for self-expression and exploration. 

Au’s passion for composition led to the 2009 formation of the Allison Au Quartet featuring Todd Pentney (piano), Jon Maharaj (bass) and Fabio Ragnellli (drums). The ensemble has received continued critical acclaim. Au earned her first JUNO nomination for her debut album, The Sky Was Pale Blue, then Grey in 2013, and in 2016 seized the JUNO for "Best Jazz Album of The Year: Group" for Forest Grove. In 2019, she garnered another JUNO nomination for "Best Jazz Album of the Year: Group" for Wander Wonder.

Au was the 2017 winner of TD Grand Prix de Jazz (Festival International de Jazz de Montréal), the 2017 winner of Sting Ray Rising Star Award (Halifax Jazz Festival), and 2017 finalist for Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Jazz Artist Award. In 2018 she was featured on SFJAZZ’s 2018 list of "10 Rising Instrumentalists You Should Know.” She has toured Canada and the US extensively.

Based in her hometown of Toronto, Au maintains an active role as a performer. In 2022, she joined the Jazz Studies faculty at the University of Toronto as a private instructor.


Awards

  • 2011 was selected as one of 8 musicians internationally to attend the Metropole Orkest Arranger’s Workshop, led by Vince Mendoza in Hilversum, Holland
  • 2013 JUNO nominee: “The Sky Was Pale Blue, then Grey” 
  • 2016 JUNO winner “Forest Grove” 
  • 2019 JUNO nominee "Wander Wonder"
  • 2017 winner of TD Grand Prix de Jazz (festival international de jazz de montréal
  • 2017 winner of Sting Ray Rising Star Award (Halifax Jazz Festival) 
  • 2017 finalist for Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Jazz Artist Award
  • 2018 featured on SFJAZZ’s 2018 list of "10 Rising Instrumentalists You Should Know”


Tags

...engaging, carefully crafted jazz."

- Glen Hall, Exclaim! Magazine ​

 

"Allison has a distinctive and conversational tone that sets her apart from the crowd..."

- Hobart Taylor, KUCI Radio

 

"...an exceptionally cohesive band that has internalized all of the music's intricacies. Au's playing is spirited and confident throughtout."

- Peter Hum, The Ottawa Citizen ​

 

"Imaginatively written and performed modern jazz."

- Mike Gates, UK Vibe

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Photos

Concerts

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Introducing Aretha...

Bent River Records
2023

buy

Migrations

Self Produced
2023

buy

A Porta Aperta

Self Produced
2022

buy

Twelve

Self Produced
2022

buy

Earth Voices

Empress Music Group
2021

buy

Late night

Ia (independent Artists)
2021

buy

Racing Across the Land

From: Migrations
By Allison Au

Backwards Crossovers

From: Introducing Aretha Tillotson
By Allison Au

Steals on Steeles

From: Twelve
By Allison Au

Dança do Amor

From: Late night
By Allison Au

Rye & Lilacs

From: A Porta Aperta
By Allison Au

Finis

From: Earth Voices
By Allison Au

Ascension

From: Ascension
By Allison Au

USS Rent-a-Car

From: Square Peg
By Allison Au

The Lie That Saves Us All

From: Wander Wonder
By Allison Au

Videos

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