Jeff Goldblum’s foray into music is the perfect representation of his film career. The 66-year-old actor-turned-jazz-pianist, best known for his bizarrely charming roles in “Jurassic Park” and “Independence Day” performs jazz classics with an energy that is consistent with his stammeringly suave charisma in film. Jazz is the perfect medium for Goldblum––bouncy, loose, and energetic, the genre is a fitting vehicle for the actor’s signature relaxed spontaneity.
To label Goldblum an actor-turned-musician is a little disingenuous, though––he’s been playing piano for practically his whole life, and he told NPR that his first jobs were actually piano performances in cocktail bars, not acting gigs. He stated that he’s “put in 40,000 hours” of piano and that he “plays every day.” Goldblum has performed weekly shows in Los Angeles for almost twenty years with a jazz quintet called The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra.
The group recently recorded a live studio album, releasing this Friday, November 9. In support of the upcoming album, Goldblum brought the band to UCSB’s Campbell Hall this past Saturday, November 3. The show’s audience was evenly split into two camps: college-age Goldblum fanatics and elderly jazz enthusiasts. The structure of the evening reflected this diversity, as musical performances were interspersed with cold-reads of movie quotes and numerous fan interactions.
Goldblum preceded the show with an impromptu Q&A session, where he revealed a number of insights into his career. He stated that “Thor: Ragnarok” was his favorite film to work on, because “we improvised a lot, and I like doing that.” The actor also emphasized the importance of his characters’ costumes, saying, “I work from the inside out, but also from the outside in,” and explained that his favorite outfit to wear was from “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” He seems to be a genuinely great person, as he eagerly shook hands and took photos and encouraged every young artist to pursue their dreams. He treated every question with immense respect and radiated a contagious optimism.
The actual performance was similarly delightful. Goldblum and his band joyfully played tunes like “Straighten Up and Fly Right” and “Cantaloupe Island,” and the pianist’s style is what you’d expect from his acting: smooth, unpredictable, and enthusiastic. The remainder of the band, consisting of a guitarist, organist, drummer, bassist, and saxophonist, was similarly energetic and talented. The non-music bits were also wonderful––someone offstage handed Goldblum lists with movie quotes, film synopses, or, in perhaps the best moment of the night, Internet slang terms like “RIP” and “shook.” The actor quizzed the audience on these topics and shared his musings about them, repeatedly stating that he’d work the Internet lingo into his everyday vernacular and providing enthusiastic reviews and trivia for all the movies on the list.
While Goldblum tried to decipher what “iconic” means, the audience collectively shouted “YOU!” at the actor. Indeed, Jeff Goldblum is a multigenerational icon, and his kind-hearted enthusiasm in all areas of life is infectious. Fans should take any opportunity to see him perform live, and definitely check out his album “The Capitol Studios Sessions” this Friday.