When he’s not running from dinosaurs or blowing up aliens, Jeff Goldblum is owning Wednesday nights in Los Angeles.
The 66-year-old actor, known for roles in Hollywood mega blockbusters, plays piano in a jazz band with a standing weekly gig with a band he calls the band ‘The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra’. The weekly performances are casual and not structured really. Goldblum will be playing the keys one moment and then posing for photos and talking with the audience the next. The whole night he is just casually being his geniuine ‘Jeff Goldblum’ self.
NPR interviewed Mr. Goldblum to discuss ‘The Capitol Studios Sessions’ – an album capturing the live show by recreating it.
On how he discovered Jazz as a teen.
“Some of these chords started to do something to me that I hadn’t experienced before, and that was just delicious to me — when I discovered that blues scale”
“So I learned a little bit about that, and got to start to play things. And then — listen to this, what a strange boy I was — one day when I was 15, I locked the door from the inside in our study, where I didn’t think anybody would find me, hear me or bother me. Got the yellow pages, looked up cocktail lounges, and starting with A and going down to Z, I cold-called. I thought I was some kind of scammy salesman or something like that. And I said, “Hi, I understand you need a piano player.” Most of them would say, “No, you’ve been misinformed” — hang up on you. [But] some would say, “Well, jeez … we have a piano. Nobody’s been playing it. You play?” And so I did, and I got a couple of jobs. It was magical.”
How does his two creative passions affect one another?
“There’s a cross-training aspect of this, so that my music, I’m just doing it for fun, without nerves really. It has bled over into my acting experience. … I didn’t [used to] feel like a fraud exactly, but I felt like I had to shock myself into functionality. I felt I had to rearrange my molecules and achieve some kind of condition of freedom or aliveness, in order to be worthy of participation in some show or another. The seeds of me knowing myself were there, but it was unformed and underdeveloped, and I had good reason to be scared.”
What about the social element of your jazz shows?
“It has become kind of an improvised show, where I commune with people and meet them, and interesting people show up. It’s kind of a living room experience that we turn it into. No one’s turning on the lights or introducing me; I kind of start talking and taking pictures with them and finding out who they are and playing games with them, which I like to do. Everything is sort of playful. … People seem to get a kick out of it. And then I go on my Instagram account the next day, see if they’ve posted anything … see how I looked the night before, see how they looked. See if they’re people I can remember. “Oh, yeah. They were nice.””