by Enrico Esposito
Last April, "Afterallogy", Noa's new album, was released in cooperation with her guitarist Gil Dor. This album pays homage to great masterpieces of jazz music and is preceded by "My funny Valentine" and "Oh, Lord". Il Termopolio had the great Honor to make an interview with the famous israeli artist.
Good morning Noa. First of all, I would like thank you for accepting my invitation.
Noa: my pleasure.
1) I am deeply honoured to have the chance to talk to you about your highly anticipated, new LP. First of all, let’s talk about the title of the album, “Afterallogy”. If I’m not mistaken, this is a neologism that you and Gil Dor created, whom you cooperated with on your latest piece of work. What’s the idea behind this title and where did it come from?
Afterallogy is a name that consists of two parts, “After all”, and the suffix “ology”. The suffix “ology” is used often in scientific terms. Black jazz musicians that suffered form discrimination used that term in naming their pieces,( like in Ornithology, Anthropology) to give themselves the respect and recognition that society denied them. I like this idea very much as it has in it the spirit of protest and independence, We decided to pay homage to the struggle of these, and all, musicinas, by using the same suffix in our album name.
“After all”, is simply that....after 30 years of career, after writing an recording hundreds of songs and doing so many concerts, after this crazy Corona year, what survives is the essence: our friendship, our love for music , our dedication to excellence , originality and quality, and above all, our courage and integrity, to stay true to ourselves and our followers, as we always have, do only what we love, to be honest, humble and dedicated musicians, never driven by fear or greed.
2) The whole album “Afterallogy” sounds like an homage to the history of jazz. The 12 tracks look like revisitations in crossover. “Oh, Lord”, the second single off the album published on 19/03, is a clear example of this in my opinion. The track is a Jewish poem from Leah Goldberg that you put in jazz music. Would you tell me a bit more about this track?
Not Jewish, Hebrew. Judaism is a religion, Hebrew is a language.
Oh, Lord is a poem in the Hebrew language written by the great Israeli poetess, Leah Goldberg, which describes a conversation with God in a smoke-filled café. I felt the song had a very jazzy feel to it in its essence, so I urged Gil to write music “Duke Ellington” style. I also added a vocal trumpet solo, giving it a nice twist of sad humor.
3) In the past, you performed some of the tracks of the album, before it would come out. An example is “My Masquerade”, that you performed together with George Benson. What’s your relationship with Benson, and generally speaking what’s the role of jazz music in your repertoire?
I sang with George Benson in the Montreaux jazz festival once, it was a brief encounter, a great honor. I do not have a relationship with him. My version of “this masquerade” is very different from his. I incorporate original lyrics and music into my rendition, creating a new story, a new, almost cinematic (and very feminist) context to the well known standard.
As for the role of jazz in my life and career, the answer can be found here:
"Afterallogy is Noa and Gil Dor’s first, and long awaited Jazz recording.
Noa and Gil have been working together for 30 years. They met in the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary music in Ramat Ha Sharon in 1989. Gil was the co-founder of the school, the academic director and a highly respected musician and educator fluent in myriad styles but specializing in jazz . Noa was an aspiring 20 year old singer and songwriter, who had recently moved to Israel form the US, completed her military service in a Military Band, and come to Rimon in search of education and collaboration. She was immediately labeled a ”jazz singer” due to her proficiency in English, her natural improvisational abilities and her inbred connection to “The American Songbook”. Having been born in Israel to a Yemenite family, and raised in NY until age 17, Jazz is part of her identity, as natural as her Yemenite and Hebrew roots.
The duo’s first concert was in a jazz festival in Tel Aviv, Feb 8th, 1990, where they performed standard tunes with unorthodox arrangements, and some of Noa’s original compositions. That first night was an enormous success that set the stage for the incredible journey to come.
Their first international album was produced by Pat Metheny, one of the most highly respected jazz musicians in the world, but did not include standard tunes, rather focusing on Noa’s songwriting.
Over the years, Noa and Gil explored many different regions of music, wrote and performed hundreds of songs, worked with ensembles ranging from acoustic trio to bass and drum quartet to symphony orchestra, explored and fused different styles, sounds and languages, always reaching for that unexplainable, unpredictable moment of magic every musician lives for. It has always been impossible to categorize them.
Afterallogy is another step in their fascinating journey, where they have put the musical language they have developed and they cast experience, at the service of these great, classic jazz tunes, and added a few originals as well.
The name, beyond paying homage to the greats that inspired them (..Charlie Parkers “Ornithology”), is a statement about life and music, exacerbated by the Covid 19 crisis:
After all is said and done, after 30 years, after a pandemic which shattered, jolted and stripped the world bare, after thousands of kilometers travelled and many more thousands of notes played and sung, what remains?
A deep love and respect for great music and the greatness in music, a deep love for the humanity that is brought to life by it and elevated and illuminated in whoever experiences it.
A deep appreciation for the gift of friendship…for a unique partnership, for the power and resonance that brought and kept them together all these years.
And that curiosity and passion, that meticulous quest to unveil the deepest mysteries of music that drives them always onwards".
4) Gil Dor is another very important name when talking about your music carrier. You’ve had a close relationship for 30 years, a sort of symbiosis that is present also in “Afterallogy”, where the sound of Gil’s guitar combines perfectly with your amazing voice. How would you describe your collaboration with Gil, which started back in the 90’s?
We are good friends, we share a great common interest and taste in music, a great curiosity , we always have a lot to talk and think about, we have a symbiotic, almost telepathic communication when we perform together..we complete each other.
5) You chose “My Funny Valentine” as first single off the album. This track was released two days before St Valentine and it sounds like a real milestone of the history of music. I read somewhere that this is one of your favourite tracks of all times, as it gives you different vibes and emotions anytime you play it. Would you please tell us a bit more about this track?
I love this song because it is about unconditional love, it embraces humanity and imperfection rather than adulating an unattainable perfection. One of the illnesses of our time is the urge so many people have to change and distort themselves in order to fit into a plastic , fake model of perfection that is pumped into our consciousness by social media and advertising. This is a prescription for misery. In this song, the opposite is revealed: “don’t change a hair for me, not if you care for me, stay , little valentine, stay! Each day is valentine’s day”..these lines make me cry. i sing this song with all of my heart.
6) Live music, unfortunately, has suffered and is still suffering an everlasting stop due to Covid, in Italy as well as all over the world. Shows in streaming, videoclips and live performances play an important role today, as they are the only way for people to keep the connection with their favourite artists, although in a different way. How do you feel in this specific moment in time, and what would you tell your fans who are impatient to see you live again?
It was a very challenging period and its not over yet. But as we all know, every challenge is an opportunity.
Gil and I tried to make the best of this year, we did many live broadcasts, some to raise money for hospitals, medical workers and other institutions, some to simply share music and stay close to my fans. We made Afterallogy, intimately, in our studio which is in my home. It was a pleasure, actually, to stay home. I enjoyed the break and the quiet, the time with my family, in nature (I am lucky to live just in front of the sea..). And now, I want to find a better balance for my life. I suppose we all have that challenge, personally and globally. What will we take from Corona?
I wish it will be more humanity, humility, solidarity, care for each other and for the planet. More quiet, more time with those we love, more appreciation for what we have.
I am looking forward to touring this summer in Italy. It will be wonderful to meet all of you again.
We thank Andrea Lenti and Lorenzo Vanni for translating this interview
Pictures kindly provided by Press Office (Elisabetta Castiglioni)