Bar code: 8427328436694
Life’s a gig “Life’s a gig, it don’t pay much but it costs a lot.” I said that at a party one evening, whispered it imitating Miles Davis. We all laughed. Truth is, life has offered me a lot. All I’ve ever wanted was to sing this beautiful music and make a living from it. I never thought I would also find family. Community. This album is meant to represent exactly that. Just family coming together singin tunes we’ve sung countless times before. I feel truly blessed to know Chris McCarthy (piano) and Kayla Williams (Viola - Jolene & Fall in Love With Me in Fall). They both carry this music with such integrity and ease. I want to flower my family with love. Arleen Simmons Gould and Hollis Gould are directly responsible for the voice that you hear on this album. Without their support and unending love, well, this gig called “life” would be undesirable, and without swing. My brother Victor Gould, also my favorite musician and composer, handed me my first Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong album- the rest is history. He is not just my confidant, but he paved the path forme, as well. From middle school in Simi Valley, California to the New York Jazz scene, his extraordinary expertise and reputation has inspired me. Life’s a Gig. A pretty damn good gig.
Our first duo session was September 2016. I had just moved to New York City three weeks prior. One of the tune’s we tried that first session was Vanisha’s classic “Now That You’re Here,” and the lyrics represent how I felt then, and still feel about all the possibilities of playing together: “Now that you’re here, we should get to know each other. A life time of love is something we should both discover. Believe me my dear, if I had known you were here, we would have started this thing long ago.” I only wish we had started playing sooner. Seven years and thousands of playing hours later, you’re holding our first record. Every gig big or small has deepened our musical connection and led to this collection of our favorite tunes. These songs in Vanisha’s voice become stories you can’t look away from. Every musical choice I make when we play together is an attempt to complement the genius in every note sung. With Vanisha, the duo format is where I can be most free and myself, with ideals of beauty and swing shared coequally. Thank you to Jordi Pujol for believing in this project, to Kayla Williams for her unwavering support and beautiful playing on “Jolene” and “Fall in Love With Me in Fall,” to my family for everything, to every venue that ever had us perform so we could hone our craft, and to Vanisha for being a musical partner for the ages. Life’s a gig worth playing when you’re on it.
"Vocalist Vanisha Gould and pianist Chris McCarthy have given us an instant classic. Gould has the touch of a modern artist with an old soul who would make the pantheon of legendary singers smile — crystal clear, concise, not a syllable wasted and a tone dripping with humor, knowledge and pathos. McCarthy serves as a mightily gifted accompanist and so much more. And the two turn Life’s A Gig into a wonderfully stripped-down session, just piano and voice with violist Kayla Williams stepping in for two guest spots. There are some old chestnuts beautifully rendered, such as “Devil And The Deep Blue Sea,” “What A Little Moonlight Can Do” or the old Julie London hit “No Moon At All.” There are some nice surprises, like Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” pulling at the heartstrings with Williams’ first beautiful guest spot. Then Gould and McCarthy take on some heavyweight material with lyrics added later, such as Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Dream” with the lyrics, famously, by Jon Hendricks. Gould beautifully pens lyrics to “Aisha,” the MyCoy Tyner classic made famous by John Coltrane. A gifted writer, Gould (who, by the way, is the sister of pianist Victor Gould), delivers an incredible new addition to the classic American songbook called “Fall In Love With Me In Fall.” It is the crown jewel of this set. McCarthy’s piano intro takes your breath away. He is a joy to hear. Gould’s noir style lyrics shimmer. It is classic storytelling of the highest order with themes of love not lost, just the fear that it could be. “Don’t fall in love with me in spring/Fall in love with me in fall,” Gould sings, as if love that comes too soon surely cannot last. It’s an original that not only stands tall with all of these songs, it floats above them in truth, honesty, heartbreak and love."
—Frank Alkyer (February, 2024)
"American artists Vanisha Gould & Chris McCarthy released a collaboration album, Life’s a Gig. The themes are romance and heartbreak through covers and original pieces. There are remarkable compositions rich in rhythm and style.
The record has beautiful ballads. Aisha has a romantic, intimate vibe. Chris McCarthy did an incredible job playing the piano, capturing the romance. The music conveys hope after a time of hardship. It’s an original piece by Vanisha Gould and Chris McCarthy. Fall in Love with Me in Fall starts with a beautiful piano solo. It gradually fades away, leaving room for Vanisha Gould to perform, and then Chris McCarthy plays the piano smoothly again at the same pace as her singing. The violin adds a touch of suspense and excitement. It reminds me of Japanese relaxation music. It’s another original song. Jolene follows the structure of Dolly Parton’s original version but with a slower tempo. It creates a feeling of sadness and worry, comparatively Dolly Parton’s single, which has a sense of anger and distress. The intense piano complements the story nicely. The gradual changes of rhythm in this piece are phenomenal.
The semi-fast songs are impressive in combining musical genres. The piece Cool has a fantastic blend of fast and slow beats. I can imagine it being a number in a musical movie. What a Little Moonlight Can Do starts slow, then gradually picks up in tempo to convey the intense emotions love causes when falling in love. The piano adapts to the song’s moods. It has a modern touch but also honours the original version by Billie Holiday. It ends with a fun fade-out. No Moon at All has a bold sound. The composition is rhythmic and well-structured. The intense piano creates a feeling of suspense and heart racing. Monk’s Dream has a lovely blend of contemporary sounds and music from the original version. It honours Thelonious Monk’s composition. No More has an upbeat piano sound that represents the feeling of moving on from heartbreak and sadness. The musical structure is remarkable. The tune Devil And The Deep Blue Sea is another incredible piece that blends harmoniously contemporary sounds and a similar musical style that pays homage to Ella Fitzgerald’s original version. The music perfectly conveys the mixed feelings about being in love with someone.
The music is a fantastic blend of contemporary and old-fashioned musical styles. Vanisha Gould’s voice is rhythmic and soulful. She has an incredible vocal range. Her singing style is bold and dynamic. She performs each song passionately.
The lyrics of the original pieces are rich in poetry and sentiment. The tune Aisha is a unique song about a woman whose impact and legacy affected many people around her. The song Fall in Love with Me in Fall is heartfelt and vulnerable. It covers relationship challenges and how love can sometimes be seasonal. The piece Monk’s Dream is a cute and unique take on dreaming about finding love and fortune. It feels genuine and heartfelt."
—https://musiflo.com/ (February 1, 2024)
"Un duo voix piano (quelquefois augmenté d’une vila) pour débuter l’année, c’est une bonne idée. Vanisha Gould possède une de ces voix qui interpellent par leur grain particulier. Sa diction impeccable, son groove, doux et naturel, ainsi qu’une forme d’engagement intense dans la musique la démarque immédiatement du commun des chanteuses de jazz (qu’on oublie rapidement). Accompagnée par un pianiste sensible au jeu tout de finesse et d’inventivité, elle peut laisser son talent s’exprimer sans lasser sur des standards bien connus comme sur un standard de la country, le « Jolene » de Dolly Parton. L’ensemble du disque avance au rythme d’un cœur paisible ; en prenant le temps d’extirper de chaque titre l’essence qui le constitue et en le renouvelant Vanisha Gould et Chris McCarthy démontre que la qualité de leur dialogue musical est la pierre angulaire de ce disque simplement sincère et baigné dans une intemporalité bienvenue."
—Yves Dorison (Janvier, 2024)