Noa was born and raised in Israel and currently lives in San Francisco. Shimpei is from Aichi, Japan and is now living in New York City. Both of them come from jazz rich environments and they have teamed up with bass and vocals only to create a spectacular album of their own interpretations of magical Cole Porter tunes.
Noa is an incredibly gifted vocalist and interpreter. She goes from sultry and sexy to wistful and whimsical. Shimpei is an extraordinary bassist. His carrying of the melodic line shows his ability and talent for creating a one-person swing.
They open the album with I Get a Kick Out of You and it becomes immediately clear that they have the vocal and artistic chops to handle Cole Porter perfectly. They change up times and keys and rhythms and they definitely make the listener want to hear more.
That collaboration of musical styles and cultures is nowhere more evident than on the album’s second track, My Heart Belongs to Daddy. Shimpei infused his arrangement wish tango, having studied yet in Argentina. In Noa's vocal delivery, she infuses the piece with her own Jewish culture. In fact, Noah describes the song as “a Jewish tango.”
Just One of Those Things carries the beauty and fascination of Near Eastern Religious music. It starts with Shimpei’s cool, bouncing bass lines and Noa’s delightful vocals join in for a remarkable duet that is more than the sum of the two parts.
That exquisite alchemy continues for the whole album. What is This Thing Called Love also exhibits hints of those lovely intonations of the Levant, despite the arrangement’s Charles Mingus inspiration.
So in Love is one of the most deliciously haunting tunes you could ever want to hear. Shimpei’s bass line is like a one of Bach’s cello concerti. The bass and vocals almost create a counterpoint and both Porter and Bach would be smiling broadly at the arrangement.
It’s Too Darn Hot is both whimsical and sexy, a deadly combination. Good Lord, Noa’s delivery is amazing. If you ask why just vocals and bass, Anything Goes answers the question definitively. Noa updates the lyrics with contemporary references that is both funny and bitingly critical. Pay attention.
Love for Sale is emotional without being maudlin. “When a smile becomes a smirk, I go to work” is delivered flawlessly. The lyrics are so amazing and Noa delivers with seriousness cloaked in irreverence, even sarcasm.
The album closes with In the Still of the Night. Said to be inspired by Esperanza Spalding, the arrangement is gorgeous and both bass and vocals take the song to a place unexplored by Cole Porter.
Noa Levy and Shimpei Ogawa are astounding artists. This collaboration is something to be cherished by all Jazz lovers. It deserves repeated hearings to get acquainted with the music (even if you know Cole Porter), to listen to Noa exclusively, to hear Shimpei’s virtuosity, then to just sit back and enjoy every single moment.
~ Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl