Jeff Goldblum The Jazz Artist? Life, Uh, Finds A Way At his weekly gigs in L.A. — and now on a new live album — you'll find the actor playing keys one moment, holding court with attendees the next and just generally being ... well, Jeff Goldblum.
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Jeff Goldblum The Jazz Artist? Life, Uh, Finds A Way

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Jeff Goldblum The Jazz Artist? Life, Uh, Finds A Way

Jeff Goldblum The Jazz Artist? Life, Uh, Finds A Way

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

So when you're the host based in LA - I'm looking at you, David Greene - you're the one who gets assigned to go to the famous Capitol Studios and interview the piano player with a new album out.

JEFF GOLDBLUM: (Playing piano, vocalizing).

DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: Yeah, and it's just not any piano player.

GOLDBLUM: (Playing piano).

GREENE: That is Jeff Goldblum, Hollywood actor by day - maybe you know him from "Jurassic Park" and "Independence Day" - but jazz pianist by night. We met in a studio that has had some pretty iconic musicians pass through.

GOLDBLUM: (Playing piano, vocalizing).

This is a lovely piano to play on. I mean, I'm no connoisseur, but I do have my likes. And to do that and to hear - listen, those little bells up there - is very - this is a Steinway. (Playing piano) And I'll bet everybody's played on this. You know, these guys in the booth would tell us whose fingers were...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: That's Nat's piano.

GOLDBLUM: Who? Who?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Nat King.

GOLDBLUM: Nat King Cole played this piano.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: There's a sticker that says, it's mine, Nat.

GOLDBLUM: Can you imagine? Nat King Cole, it's mine. Maybe before I leave, I should sign it, no, it's mine.

GREENE: You should sign, no, it's mine (laughter).

GOLDBLUM: Now it's mine.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: Now, what Jeff Goldblum does own is Wednesday nights in LA. When he's not busy on a movie set, he'll hold these casual performances at a club - entertaining, playing, just being, well, Jeff Goldblum. He's accompanied by what he calls the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. And their new album is the Capitol Studio Sessions. They recorded it here.

GOLDBLUM: This is - you know, this is the scene of the crime. This is Studio B. And the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and Frank Sinatra, I think they were right here where we stand. And we put the stage - so-called - was over there. And there was a little food buffet over there. And we were recorded here.

GREENE: You recreated a club, like, right...

GOLDBLUM: Yeah. It was perfect.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GOLDBLUM: You heard the album.

GREENE: I did.

GOLDBLUM: No kidding - did you like it?

GREENE: Yes. I loved it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JEFF INTRODUCES SARAH SILVERMAN (LIVE)")

GOLDBLUM: Sarah. Sarah.

SARAH SILVERMAN: Let's get jazzy.

GREENE: OK, so list of people I didn't realize could do jazz - one, Jeff Goldblum; two, comedian Sarah Silverman. I think the Sarah Silverman duet might be the most fun.

GOLDBLUM: How about that?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ME AND MY SHADOW (LIVE)")

GOLDBLUM: (Singing) Like the wallpaper sticks to the wall.

SILVERMAN: (Singing) Like the seashore clings to the sea.

GOLDBLUM: (Singing) Like you'll never get rid of your shadow, Sarah.

SILVERMAN: (Singing) Jeff, you'll never get rid of me.

GOLDBLUM: We were making lists. I said, how about Sarah Silverman? I think she's - you know, we could have fun together, and it's fun. But she's a wonderful - she's very musical. She's wonderful.

GREENE: Oh, it's such a - the song is such a conversation, which is so critical in, like, a great jazz duet.

GOLDBLUM: Oh, thanks. It was snappy, wasn't it?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ME AND MY SHADOW (LIVE)")

JEFF GOLDBLUM AND SARAH SILVERMAN: (Singing) For my shadow and me.

GREENE: Now, maybe you're wondering who Mildred Snitzer is. I certainly was. Well, it turns out Goldblum named the group after a family friend back in Pittsburgh, where he grew up. That is when jazz started to really turn him on, when he was a teenager.

GOLDBLUM: And some of these (playing piano) chords, you know, started to do something to me that I hadn't, you know, experienced before. And that was just delicious to me. When I discovered that blues scale - (playing piano, humming) -

you know, my God, can you imagine? So I learned a little bit about that, got to start to play things and then took it - listen to this. What a strange boy I was. I, when I was 15, got the Yellow Pages, looked up cocktail lounges.

GREENE: (Laughter) At 15.

GOLDBLUM: Yes, sir. And then from - went from - 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 said, hi; this is - I understand you need a piano player. Most of them would say, no, you've been misinformed. I don't know - where'd you get that? Who's this? Hang up on me. Some would say, well, jeez; I don't know where you heard that. 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.

(SOUNDBITE OF JEFF GOLDBLUM'S "I WISH I KNEW (HOW IT WOULD FEEL TO BE FREE) (LIVE)")

GREENE: Are you this inspired and enthusiastic about being on a movie set?

GOLDBLUM: Yes. Yes, I am. You know, there's a cross-training aspect of this so that my music, you know, what - I'm just doing it for fun without nerves, really - mostly just kind of (playing piano) excitement. It has bled over into my acting experience.

GREENE: Oh, interesting...

GREENE: Yeah.

GREENE: ...In what way?

GOLDBLUM: Well, you know, I have nothing to prove. I feel like it, you know, (laughter) lives in me in the same way.

GREENE: Were you not always that way?

GOLDBLUM: No. I didn't feel like a fraud exactly. But I felt like I had to shock myself into functionality, you know? And 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 these, in some show or another.

GREENE: It's like the opposite of being comfortable in your skin. You weren't...

GOLDBLUM: Something like that. The seeds of me knowing myself were there, but it was unformed. And I had a right to be scared...

GREENE: Well, speaking of your comfort...

GOLDBLUM: ...And uncomfortable and insecure.

GREENE: ...Your comfort zone today, I wonder if you could take us to the Wednesday night sessions. I mean, I've read that you give so much to people. Like, they come, and you talk to them, and they have a chance to get photographs with you. Like, what are you getting out of it?

GOLDBLUM: I love it. It has become a kind of an improvised show of some kind, where I commune with people and meet them. And interesting people show up. It's a kind of a living room experience that we turn it into, like - nobody's turning on the lights or introducing me. I kind of start talking and taking pictures with them and then finding out who they are and playing games with them, which I like to do. And it's like that. And...

GREENE: Why do you take every single picture that everyone wants?

GOLDBLUM: Well, sometimes, not every single picture, but people seem to get a kick out of it. And I - and then I go on #JeffGoldblum, my Instagram account, and see if they've posted anything and...

GREENE: Yeah.

GOLDBLUM: Yeah, I'm kind of an idiot.

GREENE: (Laughter) You just want to, like, see what the feedback was or...

GOLDBLUM: Yeah - and see how I looked the night before, see how they looked, see if there are people I can remember. Oh, yeah. They were nice. They were there.

GREENE: That's lovely.

GOLDBLUM: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: Jeff Goldblum - the new album Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra "The Capitol Studio Sessions" is out today.

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