Jeff Goldblum is certainly the man of the moment, appearing in larger than life concrete (we think? Or fibreglass?) form on the banks of the Thames a few weeks ago, and even more recently he’s been seen in every single photo frame for sale in a UK charity shop. He’s been in more films than we have had hot dinners, and eaten up every scene he’s appeared in. He’s that cool.
But Goldblum is so much more than that, and we ask, can you *realllly* call yourself a Jeff Goldblum fan if you haven’t until now also realised he’s a proficient jazz pianist and performer? And it stands to reason that he is. Everything about Goldblum says jazz – his laid back attitude, his acting style, his clothes. Heck – even his Instagram account is unapologetically jazzy.
Long before he was an actor, Goldblum was a pianist, and sometime back in the 1990s he formed The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, together with John Mastro, who even now is still the manager of the band.
“We just started playing” says Mastro. “There was no advertising or anything. It was just something to do.”
The name is for a friend of Jeff’s family, from back in his hometown.
“I’m from Pittsburgh, and I played piano when I was a kid. I got the idea to play out and about in cocktail lounges when I was, like, 15, and got a job or two.”
“These days and for many years, I just hardly spend a day where I don’t pass a piano in my place and just play for as long as I can,” he told NPR.
Jeff and his orchestra used to play almost every week at Rockwell Table and Stage, a club in LA, and worked their performances around his filming schedule. The three hour set has been a regular thing for years now, and getting tickets is nigh on impossible. Trust me, I’ve tried.
Given this musical provenance – why is it only this year – May to be exact – that Decca has signed Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra? More to the point – why has nobody snapped him up before this? Even Decca admit they hadn’t realised his talent until they saw his performance, accompanying Gregory Porter, on the Graham Norton Show, in November last year:
Porter is also with Decca, so there’s hope that maybe in the future we can see a collaboration there.
BBC Radio 2 yesterday debuted the first single to be released from ‘The Capitol Studios Sessions’, which is set to come out on November 9. ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ features vocals from Haley Reinhart, and is a cool live jazz (of course) interpetation of the Nina Simone standard. It’s got some really great interplay between Goldblum and Reinhart, at the start, and is just…cool. Slickly cool and fun.
Not receiving as much attention, but also out yesterday, is ‘Cantaloupe Island’, an instrumental which really lets the talents of Goldblum and his band show out for what they are. This is a group who have been together for a long time and who are passionate about their music:
There’s a vibe of somehow, we’re just looking in on this, like the proverbial fly on the wall, just checking in on a jam session without being seen – right up until the halfway point where we’re pulled back to reality and we hear the audience clapping. Nonetheless, it’s beautiful, and we’re looking forward immensely to the rest of the album.
Jeff Goldblum and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra release ‘The Capitol Studios Sessions’ on 9th November 2018 on Decca, and perform at Cadogan Hall on Sat 17 November and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club on Thurs 22 November as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival. If you can’t get tickets at either of the London dates (and apparently they’re are already sold out), there’s a further date in Paris, on 18 November, at Le Trianon. Tickets and further information are available here.