Jeff Goldblum and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra’s Playful, Touching Sound Made It OK for Stars to Start Bands Again

Jeff Goldblum and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra’s Playful, Touching Sound Made It OK for Stars to Start Bands AgainEXPAND
courtesy AT&T Performing Arts Center
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When an editor gives one of their writers the task of covering a concert fronted by a celebrity who isn't known for their musical talents, it's either because they know that it will suck and the writer can turn such torture into something hilarious or the writer did something wrong.

I'm usually in both categories. I really must have done something wrong to have to go to that Jake Paul concert.

Movie star Jeff Goldblum has his own band with his jazz ensemble called The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra that performed on Thursday at the Winspear Opera House. But unlike 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, The Bruce Willis Blues Band and whatever the hell Paul calls his "music," Goldblum and his group sound really good.

And this is coming from someone who stupidly told Goldblum in an interview "Honestly, no" when he asked me if I was a big jazz fan. Ever since then and now after his delightful show at the Winspear Opera House on Thursday, I keep hearing myself saying, "When Jeff Goldblum asks if you're a fan of jazz, you say YES!" in the same timbre and tone as Ernie Hudson did to Dan Aykroyd at the end of Ghostbusters.

The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra follow the playfulness of their name and eclectic bandleader from the start of the show to the end, in such a likable and fun way that they could force a smile out of the most angsty punk lover. Just like any good jazz show, the songs weave between smooth, moving tunes like Nat King Cole's "Straighten Up and Fly Right" and Billie Holiday's "Don't You Worry 'Bout Me," with sultry vocals from singer Annie Ellicott to high-energy, free-form flow sessions in which each bandmate can home in on the tone of each others' tempos in perfect rhythm and create a beautiful improvisational sound.

Goldblum's celebrity may have been one of the chief drivers of ticket sales, but the band's musical chops are in top form. Ellicott occasionally stepped behind the microphone to provide vocals for the evening, including a funny, midshow cover of Meat Loaf's "I Would Do Anything for Love," prompting a line from Goldblum that's one of the strangest quotes I'll ever include in a story.

"Wow, Meat Loaf," Goldblum says as the number comes to a close. "If my name was a comfort food, what would it be?"

The unique quality of this smokeless jazz show is, of course, its leader. Goldblum is pure Goldblum before, in between and even after the entire two-hour jam session. The AT&T Performing Arts Center had to move the venue from the outdoor Annette Strauss Square to the Winspear due to concerns about the weather, so there was a much-longer-than-usual line for the will-call kiosk. Rather than make his audience wait in a noisy theater, Goldblum walked the main floor decked out in an embroidered western shirt with a microphone to converse with his equally long line of fans, pose for selfie photos and entertain the rest by being pure Goldblum.

Goldblum played a version of the Kevin Bacon movie game with himself in the target spot. He quizzed the crowd with lists of movies filmed in Dallas, on sayings that no actual Texan has ever said and local businesses with punny names. He brought a smitten fan named Cindy onstage to read a scene from director Arthur Penn's Bonnie & Clyde as Cindy openly flirted with him the whole time in one of the funnier and cuter fan moments of the night. Every word, sound or question would remind him of another story or thing to say to his fans. If anyone ever tries to treat Goldblum's undiagnosed ADHD, they should be brought up on charges.

It may sound like Goldblum was trying to see how far his fans would stay, but his inquisitive interest and quirky mannerisms played off the crowd like a comedian looking for things to joke about from his audience. He even made the usually dry stage introduction an entertaining moment to behold. It's actually interesting to watch even if you're there just for the music.

Goldblum has such an obvious love for his fans that he even walked out in the lobby to meet them when most performers would be hanging out in the dressing room complaining about the craft services (I missed him a second time, dammit). Goldblum is like Tom Hanks, if Hanks could play the piano. 

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