After announcing a new album earlier this year, Jeff Goldblum has finally come out with his second feature length album. Like his debut album The Capitol Studios Sessions, Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra dive headfirst into jazz standards (and even a few pop songs too!) featuring other artists. Although I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This doesn’t break any new ground in any way, the album is a great nostalgia trip to a bygone era.
The album starts out with the popular song from the Fred Astaire musical Follow the Fleet called “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.” Beginning with a simple trio of piano, bass, and beautiful vocals by Jersey-native Sharon Van Etten, the song evolves by introducing instruments until the crescendo with a sax solo. A dynamic structure keeps you entranced throughout–a great opening.
The next cut on the album interpolates the Sonny & Cher song “The Beat Goes On” with Lee Morgan’s jazz standard “The Sidewinder.” Tight bandwork and breathy vocals from Inara George, the song provides a driving beat that makes you want to dance. Also, there’s a great trumpet solo that you don’t want to miss. Overall, these songs combined are an unexpected match–and it works perfectly.
The first instrumental track on the album “Driftin’” is a great tribute to Herbie Hancock.The bass and sax really shine through in the song with great solos. With tight interplay between the instruments, it’s a great track. I wished they kept on going!
The next song is another interpolation between two jazz standards “The Thrill is Gone” and “Django” by John Lewis. There’s a smooth guitar solo and strong dynamics throughout. Everything works throughout the song with the exception of Miley Cyrus’ vocals. She sings the song well and I’m not faulting her on type of technical aspect, but I feel that her voice just doesn’t fit a jazz setting.
The second instrumental on the album is a cover of Joe Henderson’s “The Kicker.” The best instrumental in the entire album, the song has all the band members playing at the top of their game, and everyone takes their time to play a solo! A necessary cut from this album!
“Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me” is one of the best cuts of the album. The track catches you off-guard when Fiona Apple’s passionate vocals open the song. With hypnotic drumming and great guitar work, the song pulls you in and keeps you entrenched in the ballad. Ending with crescendo/fade-out, the track keeps you wanting more.
The final instrumental on the album is a cover of Jimmy Smith’s “The Cat.” Unlike the previous two instrumentals, the track fails to keep you interested. Although it still retains a groove, the song fails to match the original version by Smith which had indescribable organ work. Goldblum’s version isn’t bad; it just doesn’t live up to the original unfortunately.
The last interpolation on the album is Wes Montgomery’s “Four on Six” and Marinanne Faithfull’s “Broken English.” Another unexpected combination, the track makes you tap your foot along the beat. With powerful vocals by Anna Calvi, she makes this song shine on the album along with a great guitar solo. Don’t miss this cut.
The next track is “If I Knew Then” with scat singing by Gina Saputo. Perhaps it is the brevity of the track, but the song felt underwhelming and seemed like a filler. Although it is song wonderfully by Saputo, the song didn’t feel necessary on the album.
“Make Someone Happy” is the penultimate track on the album. Sung by Gregory Porter (one of the greatest living jazz vocalists currently out there), the track wraps you in a warm blanket. Smooth vocals and sax work, the track is also essential listening from this album.
After ten tracks, the album rewards the listener Jeff Goldblum’s vocals on “Little Man You’ve Had a Busy Day.” With a shimmering guitar opening the track, the other band comes in forming a dreamy lullaby. Although Goldblum’s vocals may seem faulty, especially towards the beginning of the track, it is interesting to finally hear him sing after so many features on the album.
I know the big question that’s looming in your mind right now: is he a great jazz musician? I’ll that one up to you guys. But, whatever you may think of jazz or Goldblum, it is interesting to see an actor working with some of the best contemporary singers of our time.
Album Rating: 7 Jeff Goldblums out of 10
Recommended Tracks: “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” “The Sidewinder/The Beat Goes On,” “The Kicker,” “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me,” “Four On Six/Broken English,” “Make Someone Happy,” “Little Man You’ve Had a Busy Day”
Review by: William Pagdatoon