by Jeff Becker
Israeli born vocalist, pianist and most importantly songwriter, Noa Fort began her journey of music at the age of five, studying piano with a primary focus on classical she got a taste for what would become her future life passion. However, music was not the path she originally followed. Earning a bachelor’s degree in biology, with a focus on researching birds in the Israeli desert, it was not until Fort took a trip to India for a year, taking private lessons in tabla and playing with traveling musicians like her, that she decided to pursue this passion professionally. A move to New York in 2013 has afforded Fort an opportunity to play at top venues, and earn a
MA in music therapy from NYU, which she uses in her work with youth at risk, adults with developmental disabilities and people who suffer from mental illnesses, which strongly speaks to her belief that music has the power to heal.
With the release of No World Between Us, the album is comprised of 10 original songs, written, composed and arranged by Fort for a piano+voice trio, as well as a poem by Rumi that was composed by Noa and arranged by the band. “Now Is Our Time” starts the album off. From the first phrase it is obvious that Fort is not only a powerful vocalist, but a wonderful and positive lyricist too. Her a Capella opening shows her full lower register. Her phrasing and rhythm is clear as she tells her optimistic story. When the band enters, and she begins to play the piano, we hear the beautiful harmonies that Fort has paired with the flowing melody. As the composition develops, so does Fort’s vocal abilities and importance within the tune. After the lyrics are sung, Fort then sings a melodic phrase with no lyrics between the choruses. Upon the second statement of the melody, she also moves to her upper register, which is full and in focus. Fort’s sense of balance in her compositions are gripping. Her scatting solo is melodic and fits with the harmonic colors nicely. This is a well-informed start to the album and an indication of the attention to detail still to come throughout the project.
“Unwritten Signs” has a hip feel that has a melody that twists and turns and is fraught with harmonic and intervallic surprises. The band navigates the tutti sections as one, playing with perfect poise and clarity. Again, Fort’s composition is remarkable. Her form is an adventurous, traversing through different feels and colors, while her vocals are always pushing forward with interesting lyrics. Fort’s music evolves the common jazz form of AABA, her music has interludes and sections that flow from one feel to another all while maintaining focus and melodic clarity. Fort’s ability to sing complex lines is also a big part of the success of the album, and its ability to communicate deeply to the listener.
Overall, No World Between Us is a stunning introduction to the artist known as Noa Fort. Her natural way of creating memorable tunes was also carried over into the recording process. On the recording, Fort aimed to capture the feel of a live show; the recordings took place over two days in Tedesco studio, and Fort was singing and playing at the same time with no vocal overdubs, giving the performances a more natural and personal sound of connection between the artist, the songs and her instrument. This spirit is instantly felt and heard. Her wondrous approach towards writing memorable singing, combined with an equally apt ensemble, makes for a convivial experience.