Every Wednesday in Los Angeles, Jeff Goldblum plays jazz tunes for free. It sounds like a joke, but it's not. It probably isn't very LA cool of me, but when I saw that Dr. Ian Malcolm tickles the ivory right in my backyard, well, sorry, but my honky...
Photos by Nate Miller
It probably isn't very LA cool of me, but when I saw that Jeff Goldblum has a weekly jazz show right in my backyard, well, sorry, but my honky, Midwestern-transplant ass couldn't help but get super psyched to see that shit immediately. You're telling me I could be in the same room, breathing the same air, as the screen man from my story discs?! Yeah, dude, I'm going. I'm there.
According to the event page, you can pay $15 in advance to reserve a table or just show up and hope to grab a seat at the bar. Despite my enthusiasm, I am still very much straddling the poverty line, so the latter was my preference. Fifteen dollars or not, it's a huge bargain to see one of the top-two most-famous jazz players on planet Earth. The other most-famous jazz player is, of course, Woody Allen, who toots his clarinet in New York and demands upwards of $100 to see. That's a lot of notes to pay just to admire an art form defined by the notes not played. Perhaps one day these two jazzbos can team up and make a zillion dollars. Get Diane Keaton to sing, call the outfit Annie Jazz Hall, and change the genre forever.
As my friends and I arrived, the show was well underway. It was a packed house because of course it was. Goldblum is our eternal flame, and we are all but moths. He plays the piano; rolling through standards with his group, billed the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra and not, as I'd hoped, the Group That Endlessly Plays a Jazzy Version of the Jurassic Park Theme for Three Hours. Regardless, I was never not aware that this was Dr. Ian Malcolm himself, demonstrating chaos theory by tickling those ivories, and causing my porcelain heart to chip with each stroke. I was ecstatic.
Goldblum is almost always charmingly Goldblum, and his performance was Goldblum unchained (finally!). It went for that dinner party kind of vibe; the kind of dinner party where the host insists on playing jazz music for you the entire time. He kept it jazzy between songs too by playing the Movie Game with the audience. He named a movie, we named an actor in that movie, he named another actor and another movie, and so on. It's kind of like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, except more open-ended. Maybe the Six Degrees game is what the Bacon Brothers use for banter. I'd rather not find that one out. At a certain point, the audience called out Igby Goes Down, and Goldblum named himself in response. Everyone was delighted and got their money's worth immediately, but the game kept going anyway.
We were definitely on Goldblum's home court. Nothing stumped him past a few trademark "uh, uh, uhs." He's clearly a huge movie buff, and the game was entertaining because you got the feeling it was his version of playing tennis against the wall. It's fun to watch people you like have fun. If Michael Keaton ever decides to do a weekly show of playing Apples to Apples with an audience, count me in for that, too.
Oh, right, and there was also music! Jazz music, specifically, but it was played by Jeff Goldblum so who cares? No one is under any illusions why we were there. After talking to about a dozen fellow patrons at the bar, I only found one couple who had attended the show before. They said at first they were like me, just there for the novelty of it. But then, they insisted, they came back because the music was really good. They supported the argument by pointing out they have a friend who is really into jazz and even he, a guy really into jazz, said that Jeff Goldblum is really good at jazz. Really? Really! I decided to agree. Yeah, it is good! I'm glad to have that opinion to lean on since I don't know anything about jazz, other than it's that thing improv actors are always comparing themselves to.
Truthfully, I want famous people to capitalize on their fame more, not less! I want this to grow and expand. Why stop at jazz? Let's get Goldblum on a presidential ticket. Team him up with Will Smith and not only do you have a built-in Independence Day theme but also an unstoppable charisma machine. It'd be a bigger landslide than when Cowboy Ronnie steamrolled Walter Who-dale in '84. They've already got my vote. The Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff in 2016.
Maybe it's time for Baz Luhrmann to give us an update for the graduates of 2013: get famous first, figure out what you want to do second. If you're already famous, good is nice but not necessary. Incidentally, that is why I would now like to reveal that my real name is Billy Joel, thanks for reading, I'm Billy Joel, bye!