ah, jeff's back!

Jeff Goldblum and his jazzy orchestra swing into Houston for a, ah, delightful return

Jeff Goldblum and his orchestra swing into Houston for delightful show

Jeff Goldblum
Jeff Goldblum will jazz up Sarofim Hall. Photo by Pari Dukovic

When last Jeff Goldblum — one of the most beloved, iconic, and, frankly, impersonated actors on the globe — performed in Houston with his Mildred Snitzer Orchestra in 2019, his jazzy concert included a surprise marriage proposal and an intermission full of slow dances and hugs with the superstar who was decked out in killer Western-themed attire in honor of the Lone Star State.

No reason, then, to expect anything less when Goldblum and Co. return to town on Wednesday, May 4 at Sarofim Hall in the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, as part of the newly rebranded Performing Arts Houston series. Tickets are still available online

Fans can look forward to bandleader Goldblum tickling the ivories on piano (the acclaimed actor is an accomplished and savvy player who mostly leans back and allows his mates to shine) and a night of snappy, inventive takes on jazz classics from the Orchestra’s two albums: The Capitol Studios Sessions, which scored No. 1 on Billboard’s charts in 2018, and the coyly titled album I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This follow-up in 2019.

In another nod to the 2019 Houston performance, Goldblum and the band will invite three advanced jazz students from Waltrip High School and the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts to join them onstage to open the show.

As is his way, the actor who boasts a nearly 50-year career of blockbusters, cult favorites, stage hits, and guest appearances, will occasionally halt the show to offer up Goldblum-themed and Texas trivia and even a fan Q&A session. (He may also apologize again for his now viral and oft-memed shirtless Jurassic Park scene.)

For those who might need a refresher, Goldblum boasts starring film credits including Jurassic Park, Independence Day, The Fly, The Big Chill, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Thor: Ragnarok. His stellar stage work includes standouts in The Pillowman, Speed the Plow, and Domesticated. And his dizzying TV resume includes starring roles in Law and Order and hilarious turns in Will and Grace and Portlandia.

Goldblum’s hit streaming series on Disney+, The World According to Jeff Goldblum, featured a Houston-centric episode in Season 1, while Season 2 was released last year.

Currently on tour with his orchestra, Goldblum is also in the midst of a publicity sweep for the June 10 release of Jurassic World: Dominion, the brontosaurus-sized, blockbusting final film of the franchise that promises a wildly anticipated return of original stars Goldblum, Sam Neill, and Laura Dern.

As for his musical turn, given the improvisational nature of jazz and Goldblum’s stream-of-consciousness, “ah, how lovely” je nais se quois, his concerts make for a perfect marriage of high-level music and hijinks. 

CultureMap caught up with the gregarious, effortlessly charming star in advance of his hot Bayou City date.

CultureMap: Congratulations on the return to Jurassic Park, How does it feel getting the band back together?

Jeff Goldblum: Well, ah, absolutely fantastic! I mean, we haven’t been reunited — Laura Dern and Sam Neill, and I — since, you know, all of us since ’93, so it was, it was great. They are two just great actors, as you know, great people, engaged in every manner of culture and world, community affairs. And we had lots to reminisce about; lots to talk about; and lots to work on—we had nice parts in there.

And we were thrilled with Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt, and the extended cast… uh, you know, some of the returnees: B.D. Wong and Daniella Pineda and Justice Pence and Isabell Sermon, but also, you know…Dewanda Wise and Mamadou Ochay and Campbell Scott, just great! And uh,  Omar Seig came back. So, it was a great cast, and Colin Travaro is a wonderful director. We had a great time!

It was early on in the COVID-19 challenges. But Alexander Derbersher and Pat Crowleyer, two producers who kind of spearheaded and pioneered the protocols that other people then kind of followed in variation. So we are all in.

I took my two kids, Charlie and River, and my wife Emilie to the Langley Hotel where we all bubbled up and so we can shoot nearby at Pinewood Studios where they shot the James Bond movies and all that...so, it was unforgettable, and the resulting movie, which we saw now, a couple of months ago, is ah, is ah, great! So that’s out on June 10.

CM: COVID has really interrupted the movie theater experience. Will you get to a chance to take Charlie and River to the theater, given that the pandemic has kind of stifled and all that to see Dominion?

JG: That’s a good question! You know, the answer is yes, I hope to. They’ve never seen a movie in a movie theater. There are now five and almost seven, and yeah, we’ve kept them away from screens as much as possible, but they’re crazy about watching things on TV.

I've now shown both of them the first two Jurassic Parks and they were… it was a little scary, [not really] …and now, more than ever they’re obsessed with seeing scary, exciting, fighting movies, full of heroes and spells, or they mention titles that they come upon. And I say “No. No, that's not for many, many years. Certainly not. Don’t even think about that!’ But they’re crazy about that kind of thing.

I’m kind of looking forward to taking them to the theater — a packed theater, I hope — and stand in the back, or uh sit in the back, and see what happens. Yeah, I think that would be fun!

CM: Speaking of film, we love that you’re once again involved with a project with our civic treasure, Wes Anderson.

JG: Well, he’s a civic treasure, a national treasure, an international treasure! He’s a genius as we all know, and I adore spending time with him, working with him. So we might have done a little something on this next thing that I’ll bet you'll get a kick out of. Yeah, so it’s a blockbuster kind of movie, but it’s an artistic ambition and scope and depth. It’s huge, and you know, incomparable. 

CM: Has it occurred to you that youre involved with two projects  — Jurassic Park and Mildred — that really suggest preserving whats valuable to us: nature, and jazz, the latter which is a truly American art form?

JG: Well, that’s interesting and thank you for putting it in such an eloquent way. I feel grateful to be part of a certainly, first of all, you know, anything, having to do with jazz.

You know, I’m like you: I’m a humble student and a consumer of it. I love it. And uh, you know, and I think it is important and it’s part of our culture, and when I learn more and more about the history of it, you know, it's delicious and thrilling. So anything, and any way that I can be involved in and in any little way with, the great people I play with, you know, and these places, I have great experience. I loved to doing it last time in Houston – can’t wait to get back there!

And then, yeah, the themes of the Jurassic movies and this one too— I’m thrilled to have to play a character that gets to be a little, you know, wise about having to do with nature and our, you know, our part and the universe and how we, you know… I think I say even in the trailer, where ‘we not only lack dominion over nature, we’re subordinate to it.’

And we must all get along with the with the spectacular creatures that are really here on Earth with us and with each other, of course. You know they’re pretty important ideas right now, as always.

CM: How does it feel knowing that your considerable influence is exposing a whole new generation to jazz?

JG:  Amazing. You know, first of all, just fun beyond belief. But you know, every time I play it, it tickles me and delights me and moves me.

And the idea, yes, that, that we might be introducing it to people freshly, who are not completely aware of it, is just wonderful. I really, really get a kick out of it; it's really fun. And it always colors the, uh the experience, that I have in these great places. It’s true.

CM: As for your show here, can fans expect tidbits and morsels from each release, plus maybe some surprises? What do you have in store for us?

JG: That’s not a bad description! You know, sometimes we build into the show, as you may remember, things that surprise me. So, I don't know exactly what we're going to do, ha! I always like to, you know, go on an uncharted odyssey and adventure — it makes it even a little more exciting. But, I know we are going to do some stuff from the second album and a little bit from the first album — that’s true. And some surprises that you may not expect.

So, all of that — exactly what you said.

CM: Someone even proposed at your last show here.

JG: That surprised me! I’m a romantic at heart, so I always love that kind of thing. So, anybody wants to come and pop the question, okay, come on!

CM: Okay, Jeff, we’ve watched you sing. We’ve watched you dance. We’ve watched you act. Can we please, finally, officially petition you for a Jeff Goldblum, traveling, one-man stage show?

JG: [laughs] Well, ah, well, who knows? I’m, not thinking I’m not open—I’m like an open-faced Reuben sandwich! But, I sure like playing with the people I’m playing with. You know, I need all the help I can get.

Hey, maybe that’s the name of my show!

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Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra perform at 7:30 pm Wednesday, May 4 at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts’ Sarofim Hall, 800 Bagby St. Tickets start at $40 online.

This interview was edited for length.