Sundae and Mr. Goessl make perfectly sweet, authentic jazz on “When You’re Smiling”


Husband and wife duo, Sundae and Mr. Goessl are Kate Voss and Jason Goessl. Since 2014, the two have been playing jazz standards that have awed listeners. The duo’s authentic approach to jazz has earned them awards and fans. On the album “When You’re Smiling” the pair explore songs from 1921 to the present. They perform the tribute tunes in ways that charm without cloying and entertain without cheapening classic songs.

About Sundae and Mr. Goessl

If pictures indicate anything, then the colorful, vintage outfits of Sundae and Mr. Goessl that grace the duo’s CD and website probably show that the pair takes classic jazz songs seriously.

Hailing from Washington State, the two have begun to acquire awards that some artists have taken decades to earn. In addition to winning “Best Jazz Act of 2017” from Seattle Weekly, the vocal stylings of Sundae, (Voss) have earned her “Vocalist of the Year” from Earshot Magazine. Even a brief listen to “When You’re Smiling” shows why the pair have earned the accolades they’ve been given.

The pair is known for their charm, wit, and talent. Chris Spector of Midwest Record writes of them, “Hard-working award winners that have charm dripping off them…this is certainly an act you want to see live if they come your way.”

With more than 500 shows to date and plans for a national tour, audiences could get a chance to see the group in 2018. Sundae and Mr. Goessl have further won the hearts of critics who applaud their vintage style and overall approach: ” Overall, Sundae + Mr. Goessl is more than a vintage duo, their authenticity and commitment to the genre rings true,” claims H. Allen Williams writing for Jazz Times magazine.

In the duo of Sundae and Mr. Goessl, Voss plays melodica and bells in addition to vocals, and Goessl plays guitar and chimes. On “When You’re Smiling” the pair is accompanied by Adrian Van Batenburg on drums on select tracks, and percussion and drums by Sam Esecson.

“When You’re Smiling” by Sundae and Mr.Goessl

The temptation with an album such as this is to detail the performance notes of each song. The urge to do so exists because each song is beautifully arranged and performed with the almost-famous wit and charm of this group. However, it should be noted that for all the duo’s prowess when it comes to vintage jazz, some of the songs on the album are tunes from the 21st century that Sundae and Mr. Goessl have touched with their unique style that gives them a decades’ old charm.

“When You’re Smiling”

The happiness that is evoked in the lyrics comes through in the way that Voss and Goessl perform it. Voss’ vocals have the right nuances at the right times and the instrumentation is almost whimsical. Van Batenburg’s drumming is light and effective.  The touches that Voss and Goessl apply to this classic song make it new for audiences who might not have heard it all the way through before. “When You’re Smiling” was written by Larry Shay, Mark Fisher and Joe Goodwin in 1928. Louis Armstrong recorded a version in 1929 that was quite popular.


Here the duo moves from American standards to Latin-flavored jazz. The sultry feel sneaks up on listeners, and even the rhythm of the pronunciation of the title word clues listeners into the song’s origin. The guitar work is nuanced and when the key changes occur, both the singer and the musicians continue to play confidently. In short, it is a song that doesn’t let audiences predict its next move. Moreover, the song is simply “pretty.”

Because of the acumen employed by Voss and Goessl, “When You’re Smiling” is a fun, stylish and authentic example of jazz standards.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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