Jeff Goldblum Plays A Jazz Show Almost Every Week. No, Really. Known for his roles in The Big Chill and The Fly, the actor hosts a weekly show in Los Angeles with his band, The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. Among the songs: the lyrics to Jurassic Park's theme music.
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Jeff Goldblum Plays A Jazz Show Almost Every Week. No, Really.

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Jeff Goldblum Plays A Jazz Show Almost Every Week. No, Really.

Jeff Goldblum Plays A Jazz Show Almost Every Week. No, Really.

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

If you're just joining us, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath. He doesn't seem to age but Jeff Goldblum has been acting in movies and on TV for 40 years. You've probably seen him in Annie Hall...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE ANNIE HALL)

JEFF GOLDBLUM: (as himself) I forgot my mantra.

RATH: ...The Big Chill...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE THE BIG CHILL)

GOLDBLUM: (as Michael Gold) Well, where I work we have only one editorial rule; you can't write anything longer than the average person can read during the average crap.

RATH: ...Jurassic Park...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE JURASSIC PARK)

GOLDBLUM: (as Dr. Ian Malcolm) Must go faster.

RATH: ...or dozens of other movies over the years. But here's a side of Jeff Goldblum that you might never have heard before.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GOLDBLUM: (Singing) I want to take you on a slow boat to China all to myself...

RATH: There he is on the piano playing at his weekly, yes, weekly jazz show in Los Angeles that he's been doing for more than 15 years. We sent NPR's Tom Dreisbach to find out more.

GOLDBLUM: My name is Jeff Goldblum and, geez, I'm an actor. And as a hobby I've always played piano.

TOM DREISBACH, BYLINE: He's also a total people person.

GOLDBLUM: I consider myself a social lubricant as much as a musician really.

DREISBACH: To set the scene here, Jeff Goldblum is wearing a white button-down shirt, this green bow tie, tight blue pants and slightly tinted glasses. We're in a kind of club slash dining room with a small stage setup with a piano, with double bass, some drums, a guitar. And Jeff Goldblum is taking me around in this sort of pre-show routine...

GOLDBLUM: Let's go, come on.

DREISBACH: ...meeting fans like Ryan Thorn and Jessica Hall.

GOLDBLUM: What do you guys do?

RYAN THORN: We're musicians actually.

GOLDBLUM: Really? Here, let's sing something together.

(SOUNDBITE OF SINGING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

GOLDBLUM: How about that?

DREISBACH: And these fans who come to the show are often so nervous to meet him, but by the end of their interaction with Jeff Goldblum, they act like they're best friends.

GOLDBLUM: She looks like a young - wait a minute...

DREISBACH: He does this one thing to break the ice with people. He guesses which celebrities they look like.

GOLDBLUM: Who's the lady statuesque, a beautiful lady who starred with Al Pacino in "Serpico?"

DREISBACH: I think he actually always says the young version of whatever celebrity he picks.

GOLDBLUM: So many people, speaking of the game we were just playing, come up to me and say, hey, my whole life people have told me that I look like you. I have to tell you, this is a wide range of people in the looks department. But I always say the same thing, oh my gosh, well, that's so flattering to me.

DREISBACH: That's a good answer. I think that is the only acceptable answer.

GOLDBLUM: Yes, it is. Yeah, ya, I believe in courtesy.

DREISBACH: At one point during all this I get to talking with the manager of Jeff's band, this guy named John Mastro.

Do you ever get frustrated and think, god, just wrap it up already. We've got a show to do?

JOHN MASTRO: No, never. I mean, I'm amused every time. Nobody works the room like Jeff Goldblum.

DREISBACH: So Jeff learned how to play piano as a kid growing up in Pittsburgh. And sometime back in the 1990s, and no one is sure exactly when, Jeff got in touch with John Mastro to find a small group of professional jazz players. And Jeff says when he's not acting, he'll play these very loose weekly unadvertised gigs around L.A.

GOLDBLUM: And so we have a kind of a hootenanny or a be-in or some kind of a jam session I guess they call it, and people seem to enjoy it. We'll see. Who knows what'll happen tonight. Maybe nothing very amusing but I like it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DREISBACH: On stage he's constantly mugging to the audience, making faces or playing with the straw in his glass of iced coffee. And he's constantly going on little riffs, like this one with his guitarist John Storie.

(SOUNDBITE OF RIFF WITH JOHN STORIE)

DREISBACH: One of the things people keep saying to me is he's exactly like he is in the movies. And Evan Albert, Jay Salahi and Lucy Shanahan are basically just talking about one movie.

EVAN ALBERT: I mean, have you ever seen "Jurassic Park?"

JAY SALAHI: "Jurassic Park's" my favorite movie since I was a little kid.

LUCY SHANAHAN: As someone born in the '80s, like Jurassic Park was kind of up there like life moments.

DREISBACH: Really, Jeff seems uniquely beloved right now in part because some of his biggest movies in the 1990s were childhood icons for people who were born in the 1980s. And Jeff really doesn't seem to mind that fact.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GOLDBLUM: (Singing) In Jurassic Park, every in the dark I'm so scared that I'll be eaten.

DREISBACH: In all, the band plays for three hours, getting looser and looser as the night goes on.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GOLDBLUM: (Singing) Summertime and the livin' is easy. (Scatting)

DREISBACH: The show ends around midnight and Jeff is just as unassuming about his performance as when he started.

GOLDBLUM: I had no idea what we were going to do actually. So that was all a surprise to me and it was kind of fun, wasn't it? We had some good moments.

DREISBACH: As I leave, there's this line of people waiting for a picture with Jeff. And he stays after the show for all of them.

GOLDBLUM: Come on, let's take a picture.

DREISBACH: And you know, if he's not up to anything else, he'll be out there again next Wednesday, working the room. Tom Dreisbach, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC FROM "JURASSIC PARK")

RATH: Coming up, Bert Berns was one of the most prolific hit makers of the 1960s for Atlantic Records and other labels. But he tarnished his legacy with a dirty business behind rhythm and blues.

JOEL SELVIN: He used gangster connections to muscle his way out of a partnership with the Atlantic guys and they never really forgave him.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TWIST AND SHOUT")

RATH: The rise and fall of Bert Berns in the next part of ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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