Sultry, sassy, witty, funny, enormously talented , graced with a velvet contralto, Theresa Tova, without a doubt one of the most versatile performers in Canada is equally at home in any venue.
After a successful career as an Award winning actor/ writer in both stage (Still The Night-4 Dora awards & Governor General Award nomination for excellency in Dramatic litearature,) and television (ENG- Gemini nomination Best supporting actor,) Tova followed her heart in a new direction by using her theatrical talents to present emotional interpretations in musical concerts.
Stage fright? She's never heard of it. It would deter her from the enjoyment she gets by being on stage and sharing her artistry with her audiences who automatically become her friends in what critics call her spontaneous house party style. Concert Halls, Cabarets and Supper-Clubs, Gala Celebrations and International Festivals, Television, Film and "the Theatre". That's where Tova is at home.
Tova at her most intimate best.
"Jazz Diva Theresa Tova, should just add a middle name: Terrific."
[Michael Posner - Globe and Mail]
"Towering, pan-cultural jazz-cabaret diva...
an impressive performance"
[George Evans- Planet Jazz]
"Tova's version of Vous m'éblouissez should be listened to
with a glass of red wine in hand"
[Jaymz Bee - JAZZ FM]
"C'est une vraie bête de scène"
[Luce Botella- Maisons de la culture Montréal]
“An artist Canadians should celebrate”
“Classy, jazzy and deliciously sensuous”
“A purity of musical emotionalism”
“Uplifting and thoroughly enjoyable”
“Incandescent sensuality” and “one succumbs to her charms”
“Passion and polished precision in a lush alto”
[Geoff Chapman-Toronto Star]
“A velvety voice that would make the phone book sound good”
“When Tova sings Aznavour, C'est HOT!"
[Chantal Jolis-Radio Canda]
“It don’t matter what language you sing in... it’s jazz”
“I could watch this woman perform all night- she’s that good”
“Unlocking her past by breaking new ground”
Philip Ehrensaft [Whole Note Magazine]
Classy, jazzy, and deliciously sensuous cabaret/Broadway singing are terms that first come to mind when listening to Theresa Tova’s second CD. I was fortunate to attend the final recording session and thoroughly enjoyed reliving the experience. She was backed by a jazz quartet including Alex Dean and Steve Wallace, two of Toronto’s master improvisers. Tova interweaves her two musical worlds of Broadway and the current renaissance of Yiddish culture, with some beautifully voiced French lyrics thrown into the mix. You’ll hear why Tova holds her own during forays into New York’s Darwinian music world. Nine of the twelve tracks are classics from the interwar golden age of musical theatre and, with an entirely apt turn, three are belted out in Yiddish. Much of Broadway’s great music was created by Jewish songsmiths taking their talents uptown into mainstream America.
The jazzy arrangements are also apt: jazz musicians leapt and still leap on the harmonic possibilities of Broadway classics; jazz was a natural magnet to Jewish musicians like Benny Goodman who grew up with improvised Klezmer music; and Duke Ellington transmuted Yiddish music into “oriental foxtrots.” An excellent final track is the only contemporary song: a recent Yiddish poem provides lyrics about a jazz saxophonist blowing away in a New York subway station. I’d love to hear a future Tova CD centred on new songs as good as this one.
[KlezmerShack - Ari Davidow]
And now for something completely different! Actress Tova, who recently performed for then-President Clinton in Ragtime, as Emma Goldman, has taken Yiddish Theatre songs and transformed them to an incredibly wonderful cabaret format. This is theatre music as Molly Picon might be singing were she performing in Toronto today, rather than in the heyday of New York's Second Ave.... the album opens with a version of "Belz" that rivals other modern theatre renditions, such as Mandy Patinkin's. Tova continues with a well-considered and powerfully, beautifully sung set of Yiddish and Yiddish-American songs. Punctuated by little gems, such as the jazzy break at the end of "Leybke," this album is a treat for show music fans, through and through. This harks back to a more recent Jewish tradition, that of Yiddish Theatre, but is no less welcome for that. She presents the songs in impeccable, modern cabaret settings, with excellent accompaniment. Whether the songs are English translations of more poignant Yiddish, as in "Vu ahin zol ikh geyn?" (Tell me where should I go?), or pure Yiddish, whether the songs originated on Second Ave., or in the depression (her Yiddish version of "Brother can you spare a dime"), whether she sings alone, or accompanied by the blessedly ubiquitous David Wall, as in "Shpiel", this album is pure delight. [GRADE: A]
Though understanding the rational behind societally mandated diminishment of Yiddish theatre we nevertheless miss it and its glory days of Menashe Skulnik, Maurice Shwartz, Muni Wesienfeld ( Paul Muni), Molly Picon and other like actors. Still Yiddish will survive so long as there are champions of it suchas THERESA TOVA. An accomplished singer and actor whom we’ve muchly enjoyed in RAGTIME and at the Stratford Festival, she here sings Yiddish Popular songs in a hugly evident and loving labour of love. Whatever its sources Yiddish is a language/dialect/patois whatever that can inbue otherwise mundane words with a richness of emotion unsurpassed even in Italian. Miss Tova expertly and again lovingly mines its rich ore to deliver a purity of musical emotionalism that stuns even the most disspassionate listeners. As proof, we offer the only song previously familiar to us. The Great Depression song Brother Can You Spare A Dime? Sung in Yiddish brings tears to the eyes. An excellent album.
[THE HISTORY LESSONS
CD review translated from the French newspaper L’Express]
AN INSPIRED MARRIAGE BETWEEN JAZZ & YIDDISH MUSIC: Established since the 30’s if not earlier, the affinity between Jazz and Yiddish music of Eastern Europe we have taken to calling Klezmer Music does not have to be justified. Be it the glorious glisses of a clarinet opening Gershwin’s 'Rhapsody in Blue' of 1924, or the feverish reprise of 'Bay Mir Bistu Shayn' that was popularized by the Benny Goodman Quartet 1937, we could feel already that Klezmorim and Jazz men were made to understand each other. Nevertheless nobody has tried to imagine what the likes of Sarah Vaughn and Billie Holiday would have given us had they been formed by the New York Yiddish musical theatre school of which Broadway is in a certain way the continuation. So it falls to Theresa Tova to give us this experience with 'Telling Stories'. To do this the Toronto Singer and actress is very well qualified. She brings together the sensibility of a musician with the responses & techniques that reflect the years where from 'Fiddler On The Roof' to 'Ragtime' she bowed to the exigencies and demands of musical theatre.
In passing we should say that this is Ms. Tova’s first album in a career that has spanned 25 years and she knows very well how to surround herself. To place her trust in John Alcorn who produced the album and a good part of the arrangements was already a step in the right direction. Add to that a half dozen Toronto musicians, divided equally in the Jazz and Klezmer world, among whom we find the ecstatic clarinet of Martin Van de Ven previously with the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, and you have the perfect ideal frame or combination.
Now to the repertoire where the obstacles could have been numerous. To avoid the cliches of "My Yiddishe Mame" and yet to still offer us the necessary points of reference. To use with moderation the pathos that is inherent in this music. “Papirosn”, a story of a little cigarette peddler, is to the Yiddish repertoire what “La Charlotte pris Notre Dame” is to the French song, without becoming overly tragic or suicidal. Allowing room for swing without falling into the trap of over the top cabaret in the vein of Sammy Davis Jr.. To showcase the intricate nuances of the idiom and still allow herself to translate several of the verses into English. All in all one has to recognize that Theresa Tova succeeds more than honorably. For every piece in which she adopts the mannerisms of LIza Minelli she balances with a series of performances where she gives us an incandescent sensuality and in others a melancholy that is irresistible and where one succumbs to her charms. It does not matter which mood, Tova and her musicians achieve here quite a feat... to redefine totally these fragments of memory to better reveal to us its true essence.
[WORLD BEAT- Geoff Chapman]
THERESA TOVA, has a CD out dubbed TELLING STORIES.. with songs in Yiddish and English she’s backed by leading TO musicians who are active in Klezmer and Jazz. Tova, who’s won critical acclaim for her role in TV’s E.N.G. and for her award winning musical STILL THE NIGHT- which she wrote, starred in and co-produced- sings with passion and polished precision in a lush alto on the album
[CAPITAL XTRA- Frank Shane]
I was a little skeptical. A contemporary Jazz album of Yiddish theatre and folks songs? TELLING STORIES is a deligtful surprise. Canadian songstress and actress THERESA TOVA has a smooth velvety voice that would make the phone book sound good.
[LIFESTYLES MAGAZINE-Lisa Armony]
..Originally known as an award winning actress and not as a singer- hard to believe when one hears her voice which the media has called her “velvet contralto”....What’s next for Canada’s Yiddish Diva?.. What’s making everyone misty- eyed is Tova’s Debut CD, TELLING STORIES, a collection of Yiddish tunes performed in her own upbeat, contemporary Jazz style.... the brilliance of these songs lies not only in their beautiful minor keyed tones, but even more so in their wit and timelessness.
[JEWISH FREE PRESS]
THERESA TOVA’s new CD is magical. Theresa Tova has an incredibly rich, full and sexy voice. It the kind of voice that fills a room and pulls at your heart-strings. And when that voice belts out Yiddish theatre and folk songs, it evokes romantic visions of smoke filled cabarets in pre-war Europe and memories of a by-gone era, when Yiddish culture thrived. ..TELLING STORIES is Tova’s first CD and hopefully not her last.