The vinyl anachronist review by: Marc Phillips
In this day and age, I feel I have to be cautious when choosing adjectives to describe female singers. For instance, when I'm listening to Kate Voss, aka Sundae, sing these old originals from the first half of the 20th century, the first two words I think of are coquettish and kittenish. In their defense, those two words are old-fashioned in the right context and not at all dismissive since Sundae + Mr. Goessl are anything but from "this day and age." Voss and guitarist Jason Goessl are a "vintage duo," a seemingly new name for a very old sound. You've heard it before, probably in other recordings that have been pigeonholed into the genre known as hot Parisian jazz. I've been hearing a lot of these recordings lately; it's a thing, and I'm happy about it.
I do have a word, I think, and it's adorable. Sundae's voice is equal parts Billie Holiday and Teresa Brewer, light and silly when it needs to be and tinged with an old soul's wry wit that pulls these vintage themes away from forced innocence into something more pure and knowing. She's a charmer. She casts an undeniable spell on you and she does it by staying honest and doing things that have been done before, just not for a long time. Once you hear her simple and loving takes on old songs like "Stardust," "Embraceable You," "The Best Is Yet to Come" and the title track, you might forget about everyone else's versions, at least for a while.
Ah, but Sundae is not singing acapella. None of this would work as well without Mr. Goessl's hot Parisian acoustic guitar, played with deft uke strums from the Django Reinhardt School of Casual Virtuosity. Just when you think you have a handle on his style and his instrument, he switches it up with a classic electric jazz guitar ("Caravan") or he turns up the reverb ("Bang Bang") or he throws in a little country twang (Patsy Cline's "Any Time"). Sundae often provides an amusing counterpoint with her little melodica, reinforcing the whole Parisian aspect, and both add a smattering of bells and chimes whenever punctuation is required. Percussionists Adrian Van Batenburg and Sam Esecson provide the beats and subtle rhythms when needed.
Most of the time, Sundae and Mr. Goessl give everything that's required in a pared down, almost pristine manner. It's a beautiful recording, enhanced by the compact simplicity of the accompaniment. You won't be digging through layers of texture and meaning here--this is a concise idea that's composed of a lovely voice and an exquisite guitar delivering familiar classics in a way you haven't heard in a very long time. Don't be surprised if the younger generations immediately pick up on When You're Smiling and turn it into a thing. Remember how everyone jumped onto the martini wagon twenty years ago and started listening to Sinatra and Tony Bennett? This album has that same combination of hipness and historical flair. Or, as one of these classic tunes declare, "S'wonderful."
michael doherty's music log
Sundae + Mr. Goessl is the duo of Kate Voss and Jason Goessl, a married couple based in Seattle, and on their new album, When You’re Smiling, they offer some completely wonderful takes on familiar songs. They also offer an abundance of charm and joy, just what we need to stave off the depression and anger so many of us feel daily. They are joined on most tracks by Adrian Van Batenburg on drums, and on a couple of tracks by Sam Esecson on drums.
This album is a delight right from the first seconds of its opening track, “When You’re Smiling.” I love Kate Voss’ voice, which has a beautiful, joyous timeless sound. This rendition is absolutely adorable, and then when it kicks in, it somehow gets even better. It features some really nice, jazzy work on guitar. Could this be my favorite rendition of this song? Certainly, it’s up there among the best. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen. That’s followed by “Perhaps” (which is usually titled “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps,” or “Quizás, quizás, quizás” in the original Spanish). These days, when I hear this song, it’s nearly impossible for me to not think about the British show Coupling, which used it as its theme (performed by Mari Wilson). This is a wonderful rendition, with its own sly style at times, going in some surprising directions. This is one of the tracks to feature Sam Esecson on percussion. And I love the melodica.
“Bye Bye Blues” is a perfect song for this duo to cover. Listening to that early version by Les Paul and Mary Ford, it seems like it was custom-made for these two. Though this version takes more inspiration from the Peggy Lee version. Sundae + Mr. Goessl’s take on it is playful and joyful, with some fun work on melodica over that steady, happy rhythm. Okay, is it just me or is there a moment at the beginning of the lead guitar part that reminds you of Steve Miller’s “Abracadabra” (just for a moment, at the 1:31 mark, it sounds like that section near the end of the Steve Miller song; or perhaps I’m simply mad). Kate Voss does some wonderful stuff vocally here, playing with certain words, almost like scat.
I’ve said it several times, but you can never go wrong with Gershwin. Here, Sundae + Mr. Goesl offer an interesting rendition of “Embraceable You,” with Kate’s vocals accompanied by just guitar, giving it a sort of friendly, improvised air, an honest and passionate sound. And that isn’t the only Gershwin song to be included on this album. They also cover “‘S Wonderful” (which here is misspelled as “S’ Wonderful”), and this version features some playful backing vocals by Robb Davidson and Jason Goessl.
Sundae + Mr. Goessl deliver a wonderful rendition of “Caravan,” with a fast pace. I often forget that there are lyrics to this song, because usually it is performed as an instrumental. But there is an extended jam that is a total delight. I love that guitar! And does Kate Voss give a little nod to the Harlem Globetrotters Theme Song nearly halfway through on melodica? Sure sounds like it! That’s followed by “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” (here simply titled “Bang Bang”) a seriously cool song written by Sonny Bono and originally recorded by Cher. This song is now associated with “Kill Bill,” which used the Nancy Sinatra version, the version that Sundae + Mr. Goessl take some inspiration from for their version. This is a really good version. Kate’s vocals are both delicate and strong, and completely captivating. “A Wink And A Smile” was originally written for the film Sleepless In Seattle, but let’s not hold that against the song. The song can clearly exist outside that awful movie, as it does here. In fact, I would argue that if it took that movie to bring this song into existence, then it was worth it (though I never want to suffer through that damn movie again). This rendition features some adorable whistling, and just has a great vibe about it.
I have always loved “My Blue Heaven,” a song that has been delivered different ways over the years. I love the sweet renditions like that by Gene Austin, and the fast-paced versions like that by Fats Domino. This version by Sundae + Mr. Goessl opens with Kate’s vocals accompanied by just finger snaps before the guitar comes in. A baby becomes a puppy in this rendition (no problem, just don’t dress the dog like a baby). The CD concludes with a cool blues number, “Crescent City Blues,” the song that Johnny Cash basically ripped off for “Folsom Prison Blues” (I still love that Johnny Cash song, however; don’t get me wrong). Anyway, Kate can sure deliver the blues. There is also a nice lead part on guitar, with effective pauses. “I’d let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away.”
Earshot Magazine review by: Ian Gwin
Perhaps because they are sovital, standards are often jazz’s Achilles’ heel: if poorly interpreted, then you’re unfaithful to tradition; if too plainly, then you lack personality.
Voted Best Jazz Act of 2017 by Seattle Weekly, Sundae + Mr. Goessl—our local Les Paul-Mary Ford combo of award-winning vocalist Kate Voss and tireless guitarist Jason Goessl—strikes the perfect balance between tradition and inspiration in their fifth release, When You’re Smiling.
The album’s pared-down treatment of such classics like “My Blue Heaven” and “Bye Bye Blues” doesn’t yearn nostalgically for the sound of a studio past, but channels the seamless musicianship and well-turned performances of the early studio era. (Though “standards” doesn’t exclude gems like Sonny Bono’s spy-film nugget “Bang Bang.”)
Goessl, of course, knows the guitar from Freddie Green to Grant Green, audible, for example, when he vaunts his impressive pedal point arrangement of “Embraceable You.” Voss’s voice, too, remains unaffected while consistently inventive: her careful attention to intonation, such as her unexpected coloring of vowels, itself retunes familiar expressions.
When You’re Smiling is music that anybody with two ears can appreciate, brimming with bright optimism and warm expression. Though also accompanied by percussionists Adrian Van Batenburg and Sam Esecson, Voss and Goessl especially shine when their chemistry as a duo takes center stage, such as on “S’wonderful,” recovering the many shades of affection and passion within these songs, and, apparently, between the music of these two performers as well.
blogcritics.org reveiw by: Susan Francesny
Sundae + Mr. Goessl’s latest studio album, When You’re Smiling, is a fantasy-filled collection of 15 songs that range from 1921 to the present day. Vocalist Kate Voss and guitarist Jason Goessl infuse interesting accents into the classic arrangements, from his chiming glockenspiel to her squeeze-box sounding melodica. From dance tunes to singalong favorites, the release is stacked in enjoyable music.
The Hawaiian folk tint of “Bye Bye Birdie” is fostered by Adrian Van Batenburg’s snare drum. The sleek strumming of the guitar enhances the ambience. Voss’ vocal nuances impel a coquettish lilt reminiscent of Regina Spektor. Her handling of the scat verses along “If the Stars Were Mine” has a natural flow. The singalong tune was written in 2016 by Melody Gardot.
The couple also covers vintage tunes. Ragtime favorites like George and Ira Gershwin’s classic novelty “S’Wonderful” and Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” are brimming with a modern glint. The straight-ahead jazz standard “My Blue Heaven” is trellised in the neatly groomed compression of the melodica. The duo’s interpretation of Gordon Jenkins’ 1953 classic tune “Crescent City Blues” is garbed in smooth blues atmospherics with a moseying-along rhythm.
The duo’s rendition of “Embraceable You” is treated with pliable vocals accompanied by a lethargic stride in the guitar riff. Likewise, “The Best Is Yet to come” is a sparse arrangement with vocals and guitar. The snare drums are faint in the background. Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” has more meat on it, stacked in roving guitar chords with a western swing-twang. The twizzling sounds of Voss’ melodica are the icing on the track.
Their reworking of Cher’s signature tune “Bang Bang,” written by Sony Bono, is slow and reflective, allowing the listener to mull over each lyric. Voss gives the impression that she is singing the uplifting melody in “A Love I Can’t Explain” with a broad smile on her face. The song was written in 2017 by Birch Pereira, though the performance would lead audiences to believe it’s a standard from the American Songbook. Voss carries this impression of smiling while she’s singing through “A Wink and a Smile.” The song was originally sung by Harry Connick, Jr. and written for the film Sleepless in Seattle.
Sundae + Mr. Goessl are Seattle’s premier vintage jazz duo, comprised of Earshot Magazine’s Vocalist of the Year, Kate Voss, and Seattle-based guitarist, Jason Goessl. Their reimagination of other artists’ works takes listeners along fantasy-filled jaunts, packed with nostalgia and charming soundscapes. The celebrated newlyweds have been providing entertainment to audiences since 2014. Their treasure chest contains four albums, six national tours, two sponsorships, and over 500 shows.
Lemonwire review by: Dodie Miller-Gould
Sundae and Mr. Goessl make perfectly sweet, authentic jazz on “When You’re Smiling”
Husband and wife duo, Sundae and Mr. Goessl are Kate Voss and Jason Goessl. Since 2014, the two have been playing jazz standards that have awed listeners. The duo’s authentic approach to jazz has earned them awards and fans. On the album “When You’re Smiling” the pair explore songs from 1921 to the present. They perform the tribute tunes in ways that charm without cloying and entertain without cheapening classic songs.
About Sundae and Mr. Goessl
If pictures indicate anything, then the colorful, vintage outfits of Sundae and Mr. Goessl that grace the duo’s CD and website probably show that the pair takes classic jazz songs seriously.
Hailing from Washington State, the two have begun to acquire awards that some artists have taken decades to earn. In addition to winning “Best Jazz Act of 2017” from Seattle Weekly, the vocal stylings of Sundae, (Voss) have earned her “Vocalist of the Year” from Earshot Magazine. Even a brief listen to “When You’re Smiling” shows why the pair have earned the accolades they’ve been given.
The pair is known for their charm, wit, and talent. Chris Spector of Midwest Record writes of them, “Hard-working award winners that have charm dripping off them…this is certainly an act you want to see live if they come your way.”
With more than 500 shows to date and plans for a national tour, audiences could get a chance to see the group in 2018. Sundae and Mr. Goessl have further won the hearts of critics who applaud their vintage style and overall approach: ” Overall, Sundae + Mr. Goessl is more than a vintage duo, their authenticity and commitment to the genre rings true,” claims H. Allen Williams writing for Jazz Times magazine.
In the duo of Sundae and Mr. Goessl, Voss plays melodica and bells in addition to vocals, and Goessl plays guitar and chimes. On “When You’re Smiling” the pair is accompanied by Adrian Van Batenburg on drums on select tracks, and percussion and drums by Sam Esecson.
“When You’re Smiling” by Sundae and Mr.Goessl
The temptation with an album such as this is to detail the performance notes of each song. The urge to do so exists because each song is beautifully arranged and performed with the almost-famous wit and charm of this group. However, it should be noted that for all the duo’s prowess when it comes to vintage jazz, some of the songs on the album are tunes from the 21st century that Sundae and Mr. Goessl have touched with their unique style that gives them a decades’ old charm.
“When You’re Smiling”
The happiness that is evoked in the lyrics comes through in the way that Voss and Goessl perform it. Voss’ vocals have the right nuances at the right times and the instrumentation is almost whimsical. Van Batenburg’s drumming is light and effective. The touches that Voss and Goessl apply to this classic song make it new for audiences who might not have heard it all the way through before. “When You’re Smiling” was written by Larry Shay, Mark Fisher and Joe Goodwin in 1928. Louis Armstrong recorded a version in 1929 that was quite popular.
Here the duo moves from American standards to Latin-flavored jazz. The sultry feel sneaks up on listeners, and even the rhythm of the pronunciation of the title word clues listeners into the song’s origin. The guitar work is nuanced and when the key changes occur, both the singer and the musicians continue to play confidently. In short, it is a song that doesn’t let audiences predict its next move. Moreover, the song is simply “pretty.”
Because of the acumen employed by Voss and Goessl, “When You’re Smiling” is a fun, stylish and authentic example of jazz standards.
jazztimes review BY: H. Allen Williams
Sundae + Mr. Goessl is the creation of the strongest bond of chemistry. Comprised of a husband and wife duo, the connection in their music is almost immediate. Offering a mix of genres from predominately the 1930’s. Some have likened their style to “vintage pop” and others have called it “Cowboy Jazz,” one thing that is evident, the glue that bonds them together is strong, no matter the label.
With 3 albums under their belts, and four national tours, the duo is spreading the seed of joy across the land. So what makes this recipe so tasty. I would have to say it’s the swing that Makes My Heart Sway. Solid arrangements, stellar finger work by Goessl and the delicious innocence of Sundae’s (Voss) voice.
“Love Me or Leave Me,” begins the offering – which I also found a delightful companion video on youtube, that pretty much sums up the tongue and cheek lyric rightfully so. Gossel’s walking bass line is offered at breakneck speeds and Sundae is right up to the task, never a misstep in sight. Her voice nails the authenticity of the era, with true vintage verdigris.
Making a stop in the Big Easy with “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans,” and “Stompin at The Savoy” the duo delights with quick scat lines by Voss, and punctuated solo lines by Gossel, who manages to keep the flow and continuity of the entire feel with only his guitar.
The title track “Makes My Heart Sway,” is a well-crafted original tune that fits nicely among the long dozen of standards and one bonus track that comprise the overall disc. Many times when an original is placed among well-known standards it can be a bit of a distraction, the duo certainly have their craft down, this original felt right and fit agreeably. Nicely done!
The bonus track “Pretty Little Thing” is swanky, twanin’ erudite blues delivered with a sassy confidence letting the listener know that Sundae is more than a coquette to trifle with. A highlight cut no doubt!
Overall, Sundae + Mr. Goessl is more than a vintage duo, their authenticity and commitment to the genre rings true, and the genuineness shines through in their renditions of these classic gems. The duo takes you through delightfully fun romps, to late night after hours sounds. Like listening to Billie Holiday, you feel you are taking two friends along with you on your day – it has that instantaneous likeability.
EARSHOT JAZZ REVIEW BY: ANDREW LUTHRINGER
Between Voss’s confident control and playful vocal personality, and Goessl’s guitar wizardry, Sundae + Mr. Goessl come across like a vintage jazz Tuck & Patti.
This duo is obviously purpose-built as a live unit and no doubt the upbeat, catchy numbers are always crowd-pleasers, but I’d love to hear them explore more of the darker bluesy menace that seeps through on the album closer “Pretty Little Thing,” driven by Goessl’s tremolo-drenched guitar and a slinky, feline vocal turn from Voss.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ REVIEW BY: C. MICHAEL BAILEY
Another equally successful group specializing in this music of the front end of the last century is the duo, Sundae + Mr. Goessl: vocalist Kate Voss and guitarist Jason Goessl. The pair's previous recording, Cheek to Cheek (Self Produced, 2014) successfully laid the groundwork their engaging swing-era act. Makes My Heart Sway makes solid the argument that this music should be preserved and done so in a conservative manner. Jason Goessl has golden abilities, but never plays just to show them off. He provides ready-made support. His walking bass on the original title piece has just the perfect patina of old and new. The song swims well with the baker's dozen standards populating this disc.
bebop spoken here review by: lance
Sundae is actually Kate Voss and Mr. Goessl is, simply, Mr. Goessl. Sundae, as well as being Kate Voss, is also Mrs Goessl and currently holds the prestigious title of Seattle's Vocal Jazz Princess - a crown she also picked up in 2014. As well as singing, Sundae-Kate throws in a melodica solo or two - no doubt she also makes a fine cheese soufflé. Mr. Goessl earns his corn as one of Seattle's top guitarists across the genres and his guitar playing is right on the money. Choice chords, swingy solos perfect backing for any vocalist.
BLOG CRITICS REVIEW BY: SUSAN FRANCESNY
The attractive rhythms of western swing jazz and ragtime, which have been immortalized in Hollywood films from the ’20s and ’30s, are revamped by the wife and husband team of Kate Voss (aka Sundae) and Jason Goessl (aka Mr. Goessl)