By Staff Writer Sawyer Pollitt.
American icon, renaissance man, and pianist Jeff Goldblum released his first jazz album The Capitol Studios Sessions with the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. This live album released on November 9, 2018 through Decca Records as No. 1 on the jazz charts. Thiswork is a breath of fresh air for someone like myself whose taste in music has been described as “bass and screaming”.
This LP opens up with “Cantaloupe Island”, a song that can only be described as “cool as a cucumber”. This introductory track creates an amazing atmosphere for all the songs that would follow on this project. Imagine a smoky lounge in L.A. where everyone wears their sunglasses indoors and you have this album. “Cantaloupe Island” provides a platform for every member of the orchestra to strut their stuff before diving into the rest of the album.
There are two vocal features on this project that add a depth of performance to the entire album. Hailey Reinhart and Sarah Silverman, who Goldblum described as resembling Brigitte Bardot and Amy Winehouse respectively, shine in very opposite styles that are both perfect fits for the vibe of this project.
Made popular from appearing on the often viral “Post-Modern Jukebox”, Reinhart is the standout vocalist on this album. Her first appearance on “My Baby Just Cares For Me” provides listeners with the sultry tone that one comes to expect from the soloist. Her back-and-forth with Goldblum throughout this track and most others is just plain fun and helps to give this album its unique personality.
Not to be outdone, Sarah Silverman graces the stage with one of the most memorable performances heard on this work. A duet between Silverman and Goldblum “Me and My Shadow,” highlights the chemistry between the two. Both singers play off one another effortlessly
The track “Nostalgia in Times Square” is the stand-out song on this album in my opinion. The beautiful Hammond organ that has been heard dancing around the background of every song so far on this album finally has its time to shine here. Like hearing an old friend, this smooth as silk beast of an instrument elevates this track to my top spot.
As mesmerizing as the organ solo is, the rest of the Orchestra knocks it out of the park with their own parts. The hornist plays with such an elegance, grace, and at times, power, that if you’re not moved to some kind of emotion, there is a deeply rooted problem that you need to address.
The guitarist as well plays with a buttery smoothness that feels like, and this is an admittedly odd comparison, you just had the perfect chaser to a particularly rough shot of apple-pie moonshine and your mouth feels even better than it did before. The bassist and drummer move the entire experience along in the best way, forming the exquisite down of the pillow where the rest of the group lay their heads.
Let’s talk about the man of the hour, Jeff Goldblum. A playful, yet precise style of playing with no pretensions about being “high jazz” imbue this album with one of the most crucial aspects of live music: passion and fun. He brings an energy to this entire performance that couldn’t be matched by any other. One can really tell that Goldblum is feeling every note that he plays. With witty banter between songs and strings of quotable moments, Goldblum is the outright strangest yet most charming front-man of a group in recent memory.
The only criticism that I can hold to this album is a lack of experimentation. I am one who enjoys hearing new, bold moves in music. Jazz is one of those genres that excels at experimentation, pushing the bar for what can appear in music. However, looking at the context of this album, this is a project that was made for pure fun and enjoyment of the craft, and that’s ok.
As I reach my word limit, it is safe to say that The Capitol Studios Sessions has become this reviewer’s favorite live jazz album. One really feels like they’re getting a personal show from the personable Goldblum and the magnificent Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. On a scale of 1 to 10, this LP leaps up to a solid 9, and in the words of Goldblum himself “I’m taking that to the bank.”