Israeli-born jazz vocalist and pianist Noa Fort has recently released her first CD as a bandleader. The recording is an expression of a personal journey made public. Fort writes songs that deal with self-acceptance, being in the moment, societal expectations, and the more traditional love and heartbreak. “No World Between Us” is beautiful in its concept and execution, but not because it is over-produced. The natural sound of Fort’s voice and her piano playing bring universal problems into an intimate setting and make the album an engaging original.
About Noa Fort
Fort states that she cannot remember a time when she did not sing. By age 5, the musician was taking classical piano lessons. Music wasn’t the only area she excelled in. Fort’s life trajectory led her to pursue and earn her first bachelor degree in biology. After traveling to India to study music, Fort realized that she should formalize her music studies and entered the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. While performing with various bands in Israel, Fort earned a reputation for being talented and versatile. She formed the Noa Fort Quintet. The group played the songs Fort had written in her last year in the academy. She graduated in 2012 and relocated to New York in 2013.
Since coming to the US, Fort has played numerous jazz venues in New York City and with several notable performers. In addition, she has earned an MA in music therapy from New York University. Fort uses music in her work with at-risk youth, and adults with mental illnesses and developmental abilities.
“No World Between Us” by Noa Fort
Fort’s voice is unexpectedly mature. It is rich and straightforward. The qualities of her voice give the song an earnest tone. The songs are a kind of poetry that wrap themselves around key phrases. Fort makes the phrases new upon repetition by changing her phrasing or the register in which she sings.
“Traveling (In Space and Time)” is one of the best examples of the kind of poetry Fort creates on this recording. She raises the questions about who should she be, which reminds listeners of the themes she was trying to capture on this album. The piano plays a thoughtful up and down motif, while drums clatter in their own stylishly off-kilter vein. The contrast between piano and drums make the song sound almost like spoken word, except Fort is singing. She brings the theme to life without masking them in too many metaphors. Listeners can get her point and that makes the CD that much more enjoyable.
“Variations on Longing” is as melancholy as “Traveling” is somewhat explorative. There is a pop sensibility on this song. The narrator needs – – to be seen by her beloved, and kissed. This song, too, is rich-sounding. The piano makes big, bomping chords that sometimes stop abruptly so that Fort can call audiences’ attention to the lyrics. An upright bass puts down a heavy groove, and the lightest part of the soundscape is Fort’s voice. She does some vocalese which is impressive, especially as it gives way to long, soaring notes. When all parts of the song are taken together, “Variations on Longing” is exactly what the title states, and that doesn’t always happen in any genre of music.
Fort sets out to capture big ideas in the span of a recording containing 10 songs. She accomplishes what seems to be her goals. Hopefully, a wide audience will come to appreciate the relatively new and talented singer.