The long and storied history of jazz has created artists that are household names to this day: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie and now Jeff Goldblum.
That’s right — the actor of "Jurassic Park" fame has created a jazz album in one of the most unconventional musical releases of 2018. However, “The Capitol Studios Sessions” is not merely a cash-in put under Goldblum’s name. What has transpired is a solid collection of covers that shines through the charisma of Goldblum and his guests, elevating what could have been lazy mediocrity to honest, heartfelt jazz.
Backed by the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, Goldblum hops on the piano and delivers 14 tracks to a live audience: instrumentals, duets and playful banter abound, all tied down by Goldblum’s unmistakable personality.
The album opens with a cover of Herbie Hancock’s esteemed 1964 standard “Cantaloupe Island,” which is handled with great care and respect for Hancock’s original work. Instead of letting Goldblum saturate the entire album from the get-go, the song is free from any vocals, allowing the music to segue the listener into the certain feeling the album is trying to convey.
Following this is a cover of “Don’t Mess With Mister T,” another instrumental noteworthy for the fact that the original song was composed by Marvin Gaye for the soundtrack to the 1972 film “Trouble Man.” On this song Goldblum introduces German trumpeter Till Brönner, who continues to make his presence known for the rest of “The Capitol Studio Sessions.”
The pair of instrumental tracks paves the way for what is the most interesting and humorous point of Goldblum’s performances: the surprise introduction of comedian Sarah Silverman.
“I haven’t seen you at all since you’ve come gussied up for the thing, not that you always don’t look spectacular,” Goldblum playfully remarks towards Silverman before an eager crowd.
The two then dive into a take on “Me and My Shadow,” a staple in the pantheon of 20th-century jazz music, and proceed to spice it up with their respective quirky natures that made them icons in the realm of entertainment in the first place. As the track wraps up, Goldblum cleverly wrings out the iconic motif to the film he’s most well-known for, a great nod to Jurassic Park and a testament to its effect on his career.
The album’s highlight by far is Goldblum’s take of “My Baby Just Cares For Me” with singer Haley Reinhart. Although it could never touch the heights of the immortal Nina Simone’s version, it keeps the same lighthearted and genuinely affectionate mood that resonated from the track in 1958.
Goldblum’s final guest on the bill is Irish singer Imelda May, who joins him for a pair of Nat King Cole Trio covers among others. “Straighten Up and Fly Right” and “Gee Baby (Ain’t I Good to You)” are faithful covers, but can’t help sounding a little generic, which is this album’s singular gripe. Regardless, for an album that has to stick to one genre, “The Capitol Studios Sessions” could’ve been much worse.
Jeff Goldblum proves he is one of the most talented human beings on the planet with “The Capitol Studios Sessions” and succeeds in curating a pleasant, atmospheric jazz album, a sect of music that is all too lacking in this age.