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CD Review: Jeff Goldblum & the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra - The Capitol Studios Sessions

Updated: Dec 6, 2018

By Randy Freedman


1. Cantaloupe Island

2. Don’t Mess With Mister T

3. My Baby Just Cares For Me

4. Straighten Up and Fly Right

5. Jeff Introduces Sarah Silverman

6. Me and My Shadow

7. Nostalgia in Times Square

8. It Never Entered My Mind

9. Gee Baby (Ain’t I Good To You)

10. I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel to Be Free)

11.This Bitter Earth

12. Come On-A-My House

13. Caravan

14. Good Nights


Piano - Jeff Goldblum

Bass - Alex Frenk

Hammond Organ - Joe Brigg

Drums - Kenny Elliot

Saxophone - James King (Tracks 1,3,5 ,7,14)

Vocals - Haley Reinhart (Tracks 3,9)

Vocals - Imelda May (Tracks 4,11,12)

Vocals - Sarah Silverman and Jeff Goldblum ( Track 5)

Vocals - Sarah Silverman (Track 6)

Trumpet & Flugelhorn - Til Bronner (Tracks 2, 3 ,4, 6, 8, 11, 12,13)

Backing vocals - Alex Frank, James King, Joe Bogg, John Stories, and Kenny Elliot (Track 8)

The recording kicks off with a smoky, slick and joyously infectious version of Herbie Hancock's "Cantalope Island" which offers more than a few moments of real magic most notably some inspiring saxophone playing by James King. Goldblum proves both his steadiness and versatility on the piano as the ensemble keeps a solid beat going during Charles Mingus's "Nostalgia in Times Square". The listening audience has a sense of the joy, satisfaction, relief and accomplishment that the band seems to feel, as though they were all technicians in a lab where a particularly difficult experiment has gone well. For this reviewer some of the best moments of this entire album come on the instrumentals that feature trumpeter Till Brönner. His playing sizzles on a sublime, cinematic, wistful, yet moody version of "Don't Mess With Mister T" and the straight-ahead and swinging “Straighten Up and Fly Right” not only features a tender trumpet lament but also the enlightening vocals of Imelda May. On the Rodgers/Hart classic "It Never Entered My Mind" Brönner's playing is married perfectly to Goldblum’s ivory keys who's piano skills are given an opportunity to shine and it's pure heartbreak. Vocalist Imelda May, who has been compared to Billie Holiday, has a convincing vintage appeal in her voice which is laced with bits of scatting and playing to the audience, allowing the listener to almost imagine her performance without actually having to see it. She seems to have great chemistry with Goldblum, despite her rockabilly roots, and her sultry voice seems very comfortable with jazz on both the Dinah Washington tune "This Bitter Earth" and "Come On- A -My House by Bagdasarian and Saroyan.

Hailey Reinhart, who placed third on America Idol in 2011, swaps banter with Goldblum in the opening moments of "My Baby Just Cares For Me" and then shows off her impressive vocal phrasing and range when the tune kicks in. Much like the previously discussed May, jazz seems to suit Reinhart very well as she delivers both syrup and brimstone on a show stopping “Gee Baby (Ain’t I Good To You)". Comedic dialog is swapped back and forth between Goldblum and Sarah Silverman, during their tongue in cheek duet on "Me and My Shadow". It's mostly played for laughs, but also features some marvelous harmonies. Silverman offers bawdy ad libs and contemporary references to climate change, which the whopping crowd laps up. Goldblum and Bronner save their best collaboration for last with a brilliant, loose, and exciting reinterpretation of "Caravan" that’s sure to impress even the most hardcore of jazz fans.

With The Capital Studios Sessions, Goldblum and his band consistently deliver a solid listening experience that challenges the widely held notion, that classic jazz songs have been done so many times that a new interpretation of these tunes is impossible.

Having just released his first album at the age of 66, Jeff Goldblum is joyously swimming in the uncharted waters of playing live jazz for audiences in stadium size venues internationally. Yet, Goldblum continues to run his show, his way, according to his own warm, wonderful, internal rhythm. It is the "Goldblumisms" that set his musical appearances apart from others, make them special, and keep the crowds coming back for more. This recording proves that everyone loves Jeff Goldblum.

Chicago freelance writer Randy Freedman is a jazz connoisseur, photographer, food critic, humorist, and devoted music fan. He is a regular contributor to Chicago Jazz Magazine.

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