Jeff Goldblum — the actor who's played everyone from Satan to comedian Ernie Kovacs to cosmic comic-book character the Grandmaster — can be found in his off hours lately singing with his jazz combo, The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, at Los Feliz supper club Rockwell Table & Stage. His is an insanely entertaining revue, bursting with audience interaction, guest singers and trivia games about his storied career.
Occasionally, people take the stage and do impressions of Goldblum. He stands there amused, the very soul of good sportsmanship, as they hurtle deep into the heart of Jeff Goldblum Consciousness. Then he sings standards in that vibrantly velvet voice of his.
Goldblum, 65, reveals how the Rockwell residency came to be. “I've been playing out and about for a couple of decades now, ever since actor and occasional pianist Peter Weller sort of cooked up this thing. He came back from a job and said, 'We should start playing out and about.' And we did. Since the years passed, he's gone on to other things and I've kept this core band, and producer John Mastro has helped me every step of the way. He's been instrumental in it and directs the show now.”
“We've played a lot of different places — the Hollywood Bowl; the Playboy Jazz Festival one year. Mildred Snitzer, by the way, was a lady that was a friend of my family in Pittsburgh who lived to be 100.” The MSO is rehearsing for the recording of its upcoming live album in the confines of the Capitol Records Building, a landmark that is itself no stranger to elegance and eloquence.
In Annie Hall, Goldblum famously forgot his mantra. This is ironic, given the fact that he's remembered so many choruses and songs for his Rockwell revue. “In 1973 or 1974, I had actually been initiated into Transcendental Meditation,” he says. “It was just a little session where they teach you a thing or two, and then the qualified person whispers in your ear a mantra. They said never to utter it out loud or to share it with anyone because it's sort of a powerful seed that grows over the years with attendance and use with meditation. That was the mantra that I had then — I still make use of that sound, that mantra, but in my own way, as needed.”
“Playing music, I think that certain sounds and tone combinations and rhythm combinations are very powerful and, in fact, now that I'm thinking about it … magical!”
Much as water seeks its own level, from that prior enlightenment to today's Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, there's been a tone running through Goldblum's life. It's like a river running underground, watering all good things. “That's very interesting,” he says. “It reminds me of my sons, River Joe and Charlie Ocean. And I really love that song 'Old Man River' — and that song by Carly Simon from that movie Working Girl, 'Let the River Run.' And I like that song from Norma Rae, 'It Goes Like It Goes.' 'So it goes like it goes and the river flows…'?”
He tends to sing constantly — charmingly — whenever he talks about music.
The consummate showman.