Olivia Van Goor sings of flora, fondess, and food on debut EP, ‘When The Shadows Fall’

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Recommended Tracks:  “Willow Weep For Me”, “Shadow Waltz”, “Hershey Bar”
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Miss Van Goor’s studious approach to vocal jazz has equipped her to command the best of the jazz greats whose tunes she’s doubtless heard more times than most. There’s a sensuality and smirk in her voice reminiscent of 1920s born singers such as Doris Day, Julie London, Anita O’Day, Blossom Dearie, and Carmen McRae. Her debut EP, When The Shadows Fall, promises a fulfilling and thoughtful career.

 

 

Van Goor and collaborators William Marshall Bennett (piano), Samuel Chase Harris (bass), Eliza Salem (drums), and Sami Blosser (saxophone), Josh Ford (production), Mark Byerly (production), pull from deep within the Great American Songbook and then a little further afield to give new and timeless life to some lesser known jazz classics.

At the heart of the success of the EP is Van Goor and Bennett’s lockstep, other-enhancing musical relationship, supported by a subtle and sensitive rhythm section.

 

 

“Willow Weep For Me” is a vibe for a first track as interpreted here. A slight uptick in tempo in addition to the character of Van Goor’s vocals transforms words about heartbreak to playful seduction. “Weeping willow tree, weep in sympathy / Bend your branches down along the ground and cover me.” The piano solo features recurrent descending scalular licks and trills, conjuring images of tumbling willow branches and dancing leaves. Solid execution of this and the second track, “No Moon at All”, firmly establishes Van Goor’s right to the mic. The jazz standard also sees an upbeat interpretation reminiscent of versions by Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Tormé. “Don’t make a sound / It’s so dark / Even Fido is afraid to bark / What a perfect chance to park / And there’s no moon at all”

In keeping with the established themes – nature and romance – and introducing the secondary theme of this EP – food – “Lilac Wine” by James Shelton is an ambitious selection for a debut. Witten in 1950 and premiered in the theater musical revue, Dance Me a Song, it’s a highly theatrical number about taking refuge from the loss of a lover in the consumption of lilac wine. Van Goor hits some stunning emotive moments in this rendition. Her vocal inflection when she sings “because it brings me back you” and each time she sings “Lilac wine is sweet and heady” hints at a masterfully emotive rendition that fell just short of manifesting in this recording. It is nice none the less, and a song that I hope she will return to.

Van Goor’s version of “Shadow Waltz”, written by Harry Warren and Al Dubin and premiered in the 1933 musical film “Gold Diggers of 1933”, joins a still exclusive list of contemporary jazz singers revitalizing the tune. This is the best of them. Van Goor and company shine in this arrangement, featuring for the first time on the EP Van Goor’s scat skills in delightful conversation with Harris’s bass. The EP closes with the single release, “Hershey Bar”, written by Johnny Mandel, released by The Stan Getz Quartet in 1950, and subsequently scatted by Anita O’Day in 1960. Van Goor’s version featuring all new original lyrics is a laudable creative contribution to the song’s canon. “Even if I could I would never change a thing / that’s why you and chocolate both are my favorite things.” A fusion of bebop, classic hopeless romantic sentiment, and chocolate metaphors at Stan Getz speed make for a fun ride.

 

Catch the Olivia Van Goor Quartet at Ann Arbor’s famous Blue Llama Jazz Club in a Tribute to Anita O’Day. Friday, March 25th from 7pm.

Listen to When The Shadows Fall on platforms like Spotify, SoundCloud, and Apple Music. I recommend doing so with chocolate and a glass of wine.

Keep up with Olivia Van Goor:

 

Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // YouTube // Tik Tok // Website

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