Out of the "Shadows": Jazz vocalist Olivia Van Goor explores lesser-known songs on her debut EP and returns to Blue LLama

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

A headshot of jazz singer Olivia Van Goor. She has brown-blonde bob-type hair and blue eyes and is wearing a blue dress.

Photo by Ryme Media

For her debut EP, When The Shadows Fall, Milford jazz vocalist Olivia Van Goor unearthed and reshaped five hidden gems from the Great American Songbook and beyond.

“None of them are any of the classic standards like ‘Fly Me to the Moon,'" Van Goor said. "I intentionally chose standards that most professional working jazz musicians know, but not all of them. The two that are standards are ‘Willow Weep for Me’ and ‘No Moon at All. ... I did the Detroit Jazz Workshop two years in a row, and the first time I sang ‘Willow Weep for Me,’ and the second time I did ‘No Moon at All.’ I picked my milestone moments with learning the music.”

Those milestone moments also serve as a timeless journey through a spectrum of emotions ranging from hope to heartbreak. Each When The Shadows Fall track waltzes, swings, and bops from one era to the next. 

“I was really inspired by Veronica Swift, and she’s one of the best jazz vocalists of the time right now," Van Goor said. "On her last album, she took some musical theater songs that haven’t been taken by any of the legends and turned into standards and did them in that format.

“If you listen to an old recording of ‘Shadow Waltz,’ you’ll notice the style is completely different (from my version). I arranged all of the songs, and that’s my biggest originality to it, except I wrote the lyrics to ‘Hershey Bar.’”

The Olivia Van Goor Quartet will return to Ann Arbor’s Blue LLama Jazz Club on Feb. 18 and will perform songs from When The Shadows Fall as well as some past and new tunes.

Friday Five: Chirp, Telesonic 9000, zagc, Evan Starr & Naxxar, Nadim Azzam

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Album and single covers collage. Artists featured: Chirp, Telesonic 9000, zagc, Evan Starr and Naxxar, and Nadim Azzam

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features a soulful jammer by Chirp, Kraftwerk-ian electronica by Telesonic 9000, a MEMCO mix by zagc, hip-hop-pop by Evan Starr and Naxxar, and a new video by Nadim Azzam.

 

Friday Five: Lily Talmers, Daring Detour, Meg Brennan, Joshua Orange, Samn Johnson

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five album covers for January 28, 2022.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features electric solo folk from Lily Talmers, acoustic folk by Daring Detour, jazz by Meg Brennan, a techno/house mix by Joshua Orange, and experimental ambient and pop by Samn Johnson and friends.

 

UPDATED: Soul Message Band's "Live at Blue LLama" launches the club's new record label; album release concert announced

MUSIC

Soul Message Band, Live at Blue LLama CD back cover

This story was originally published on June 2, 2021. An album release concert is happening Saturday, January 29, 2022 at Blue LLama.

When you walk into Ann Arbor's Blue LLama Jazz Club, the first thing you notice isn't the sound booth. It's the curved long bar that starts near the front door, the ceiling's circle lights, or perhaps the textured sound-absorbing panels that line the back wall of the club. But the sound booth is outfitted with oodles of high-end audio and video gear, and Blue LLama is able to document every performance it chooses to with relative ease. Since the venue often books local artists, recording these shows will provide an invaluable resource covering the recent history of the Ann Arbor and Michigan jazz scenes.

But touring artists are also taking advantage of Blue LLama's high-tech capabilities.

The first live album recorded at the club came out last September on Denmark's venerable Storyville RecordsAdonis Rose Piece of Mind-Live at Blue LLama. The New Orleans drummer and Blue LLama artistic director Dave Sharp discussed making this record while the club was still being designed, and the results are an excellent mix of electric and acoustic jazz.

The club has now taken the next step and formed a label, Live at Blue LLama Records.

Friday Five: Winged Wheel, Rebekah Faidia, VBlank, Edward Diehl, Ness Lake

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

The rectangular image features five square record covers from this week's Friday Five feature. The far left image is the largest square; it's for Winged Wheel's album and it's all white with a photo of an empty room with cream carpet and walls and a window on the left side; there is sunlight on the floor in the shape of the window pane. The square to the upper right of the main square is for Ness Lake and features a child's drawing in back crayon features people, animals, ghosts, and stars; the square below that is for Edward Diehl's album and it's a close-up of a green leaf with a water drop. To the right of those are two shots of the sky: the upper image is for Rebekah Faidia's song and it has a blue sky with barren branches and a lone bird; below that is VBlank's cover and it features a tree and sky shot digitally altered to be pink and blue.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features hypno-rock with Winged Wheel, folk-pop soul by Rebekah Faidia, sci-fi soundtracks via VBlank, solo piano from Edward Diehl, and lo-fi indie courtesy of Ness Lake.

 

Friday Five: Hi Potent C & Omnichron, Test Device, Quality Jones, Morel Compass, Price

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 01-14-2022

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features hip-hop from Hi Potent C & Omnichron, video-game-inspired music from Test Device and Quality Jones, funk and fusion by Morel Compass, and dance-floor bangers from Price.

 

Friday Five: Scotty Karate, Nadim Azzam, Chris Purdy, Chirp, Chris Bathgate

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 01-07-2022

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features country-blues from Scotty Karate, hip-hop folk by Nadim Azzam, an uplifting dance mix courtesy of Chris Purdy, a single and video by R&B-influenced jam band Chirp, and a Chris Bathgate folk-rock reissue.

 

Fred Thomas hosts a podcast commemorating Polyvinyl Records' 25th anniversary

MUSIC

Polyvinyl Podcast logo

Ypsi-Arbor mainstay Fred Thomas has been creating and releasing music since he was a teenager—only slightly before the Illinois-based record label Polyvinyl launched in 1996.

Polyvinyl made its name initially by featuring punk-inspired, melodic-emo ragers by the likes of Rainer Maria and Braid before its evolution into a more indie-rock-oriented label with the signings of eclectic artists such as Of Montreal and Thomas' Saturday Looks Good to Me (SLGTM).

While Thomas often releases music from his various projects on his Life Like label, the prolific artist's relationship with Polyvinyl has carried on ever since SLGTM's 2002 LP, All Your Summer Songs: The Champagne-based label put out the last three full-length "proper" records Thomas made under own name, and now he's the host of a podcast that looks back at Polyvinyl's history.

It's a rich past to dig through, too: Polyvinyl has released music by more than 100 artists, many of whom Thomas will speak with as the podcast plays out, including members of American Football, Alvvays, Japandroids, of Montreal, Laura Jane Grace, and Xiu Xiu along with the label's Natalie Dávila, Andy De Santis, and Seth Hubbard.

Friday Five: Same Eyes, Jim Cherewick, Chip Clip, Adam J. Snyder, Dre Dav

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 12-31-2021

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features synth-pop by Same Eyes, indie by Jim Cherewick, orchestral crooning by Chip Clip, folk by Adam J. Snyder, and hip-hop by Dre Dav.

 

AADL 2021 Staff Picks: Homepage

AADL 2021 Staff Picks: Homepage

This is the fifth year we've compiled Ann Arbor District Library staff picks, featuring tons of recommendations for books, films, TV shows, video games, websites, apps, and more.

The picks are always an epic compilation of good taste, and last year's post was more than 35,000 words—incinerating phone data plans and overheating computers as the massive page loaded.

In a sincere effort to keep your electronics from catching fire, we've split up the hundreds of selections into four categories:

➥ AADL 2021 Staff Picks: Words
➥ AADL 2021 Staff Picks: Screens
➥ AADL 2021 Staff Picks: Audio
➥ AADL 2021 Staff Picks: Pulp Life

And since we've saved your phones and laptops from the flames, tell us what you enjoyed this past year in the comments section below—doesn't need to be something that came out in 2021, just some kind of art, culture, or entertainment that you experienced over the prior 12 months.