Cole Porter was born in Indiana, but decades after his passing, the stunning blend of romance and wit he brought to his songs for Broadway and film continues to conquer the world and bridge seemingly divergent cultures. The latest case in point, You, Me & Cole, the joyful, vim, vigor and gloriously wit filled homage by the duo of versatile and emotionally intuitive Israeli born jazz vocalist Noa Levy and culturally adventurous Japanese born bassist Shimpei Ogawa.
The two met in the Bay Area, where they began playing together for a jazz history class at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley. This led to numerous duo club dates, and the idea for a full- length album of sparsely arranged, re-imagined Porter classics emerged from their sensual, sassy tango arrangement of “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” – which on the album includes a lively, soaring incantation from Levy’s Jewish background.
Before we even dig into the plucky, swinging opening track “I Get a Kick Out of You” – which begins with a brief but vibrant display of Levy’s non-liturgical scatting skills – we know we’re in for a rousing, fun time just from looking at the album cover. In an age where less of a premium is put on album art, the image of her mouth wide open (presumably singing), the strings of his bass and his closed eyed smile is a priceless reflection of their infectious musical chemistry.
Porter’s songs have been covered by some of the greatest legends of the last century, and yet it’s a good bet that you’ll find a new freshness in them as Levy and Ogawa revel in an inventive, stylistically expansive journey from a lighthearted jazz swing through “What Is This Thing Called Love?” and a soft-spoken, classically influenced “So In Love” through the spacious and soulful, chamber music flavored “In The Still of the Night.”
Those looking for the quirkier side of Porter will enjoy the duo’s plucky, exotic and vocal-percussion spiced romp through “Anything Goes,” which includes playful contemporary name checks of Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe and sly references to texting and fake news.