Israeli-born vocalist, pianist, songwriter, improviser, and purveyor of torchlight melodies, Noa Fort, deftly integrates classical and jazz piano with freestyle verses. Her latest endeavor, No World Between Us, showcases her vocal prowess and piano skills. Fort began both disciplines while she was in her single digits (in age). She continued both in the subsequent years following. Although Fort earned her first BA in biology, she knew that music was her avocation.
Traveling to India gave Fort the opportunity to take private tabla lessons and perform with other musicians. It was this experience that motivated her to pursue music professionally. She started her studies in singing and piano instruction at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. Over time, she developed her skills, which led to the Noa Fort Quintet. They played original compositions. Fort moved to New York City in 2013, where she headlined at numerous nightclubs.
No World Between Us is her debut release as a bandleader. It is comprised of 10 original songs written, composed, and arranged by Fort. She plays piano and sings lead. Additionally on the album is the poem “The Guest House” with words by Rumi and translated by Coleman Barks. The melody is composed by Fort and arranged by her band, which consists of Zack Lober on bass, Ronen Itzik on drums and backing vocals, and special guest Josh Deutsch on trumpet.
Though Fort’s music is categorized as jazz, her songs fall into a number of genres, including blues, acoustic pop, alternative rock, and world folk. Her vocals have a similarity to the soothing pitch of Paula Cole with the warmth of Sarah McLachlan. If audiences did not know any better, they would assume that Fort was a graduate of the Lilith Fair. What does set Fort apart from the Lilith Fair camp is how deep her vocals plunge into the emotional content of the lyrics. For instance in “Mirrors,” her singing does not simply gloss over the words but lingers on poignant syllables, enticing the listener to give the lyrics a closer inspection.
The dance grooves along “Unwritten Signs” stir a pivoting motion in Fort’s vocals, giving the track a catchy beat. She administers a refined phrasing in her piano keys along “Winter Requiem,” tantamount to the suave playing of symphony masters. Slow and breezy, Fort’s vocals capture the natural feel of a live show on the title track, as she improvises the text.
Noa Fort has collaborated and played with such respected artists as William Parker, Okkyung Lee, and Rene Hart. Her most recent accomplishments include participating in the Banff Jazz and Creative music workshop under the leadership of Vijay Iyer. She also holds an MA in music therapy from New York University. The degree enables her to use music in her work with youth at risk and adults with developmental disabilities. She shows how the power of music can help people who suffer from mental illness.