Jeff Goldblum is loving life these days — and it’s likely you’ll be too, a little more than usual, should you have the chance to see him play at UCSB’s Campbell Hall on Saturday, November 3. The suave, sweet, stylish star of screen and stage will set the night alight with his Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, a famously upbeat, rousingly elevating jazz band of friends known for their weekly stints at L.A.’s Rockwell Table & Stage club. Formed in the 1990s, Goldblum’s Mildred Snitzer Orchestra is soon to release its first album,The Capital Studio Sessions, on November 9. I spoke to Goldblum about the new album, fan adoration, and his wonderment of nature.
How are you today?
I am wildly enthusiastic. I’m good. I did all my homework, I did my piano practicing; I worked out; I’ve attended to the kids, Charlie Ocean and River Joe; and things are looking up. I’m preparing for my gig tonight at the Rockwell.
How are things at the Rockwell? What’s been new and exciting for you in recent performances?
We’ve been doing Rockwell for a few years, and I tell you, now that we’ve done this album, things have all sort of ramped up a little — essentially the same, but a little more interesting and exciting. Last year, you know, I played with Gregory Porter on Graham Norton, and Tom Lewis of Decca Records saw it and said, “Maybe we’ll do an album with you.” We got Larry Klein, a great producer, to record it and now planning to go on this tour. At Rockwell, you know, we’ve been more focused on the stuff that we’re gonna do and focused on investigating more deeply the stuff we’ll play on tour.
How does it feel now to finally have an album of recorded material — it must be something of a landmark for you?
It’s thrilling. I’m just delighted and surprised by it. It kind of just happened, not for any strategy or any dream of mine over the years. We played at first under the radar and kind of evolved organically, out of the pure enjoyment of it and the pleasure of playing. It became this other thing and now it’s developed into this, which feels just terrific.
Your birthday was recently. How did you celebrate, and what are you grateful for?
Thank you for mentioning it. That’s a good question. Well, gee, the whole day was very nice. In the morning, my wife Emily gave me this lovely card that I’ll cherish forever, with some very sweet things in it; the two boys brought me a couple cupcakes, and we all blew them out together, and that couldn’t have been sweeter. I had a nice time during the day hearing from friends from all over. I went to an InStyle event, where they were giving this stylish fellow of the year award, [the InStyle’s 2018 Man of Style award], and Julia Roberts was there and Richard Curtis, who I worked with many years ago on The Tall Guy. It was just delightful. And what am I grateful for? My entire lucky life and career and family, and you know — jeez, oh man, all sorts of things, everything. I’m continually and actively grateful.
We’ve watched you evolve into a living meme, if you don’t mind me saying. How does it feel to see so many aspects of your life and character becoming cherished and celebrated in so many ways?
I don’t know about that, but it’s very sweet of you to say. I get a kick out of all of it, however long it’s gonna last. I tune in to check into my Instagram hashtag #jeffgoldblum probably daily, much to the bemused chagrin of my wife, and she gets a kick out of it. I like it when people get tattoos of me and draw pictures of me and when they put up that ridiculously large statue of me in London, that was funny and wonderful. A lot of people come to these gigs, and I’m hoping in Santa Barbara too, a lot of people come to enjoy the music, and I like to take pictures with them. I couldn’t enjoy it more.
You wrote beautifully in GQ once about appreciating the experience of being alive as we grow older and appreciating Mother Nature. Was there either a foundational experience with nature that got you thinking in this way, or one that’s inspiring to you now?
I had an interview recently with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I’m a big fan of his. I’ve read much of his writing. He always inspires me about the known facts of the universe and our lucky place in it on this spectacularly beautiful planet, kind of a lucky paradise. It’s not only inspiring but poetical, I find. And now I remember my childhood in Pittsburgh, tramping around the woods and reading books about Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett. There were some great woods around there. I love the smell of the loamy earth and our own garden when springtime would arrive with crocuses. I got a big kick out of it, and now seeing our kids… It’s part of our birthright, just the joy of living. It seems to be good to be alive, and I think I’ve felt that from early on. I certainly feel it now more clearly. I look at my backyard; we take trips to the ocean sometimes, with Charlie Ocean and River Joe. We love the water, obviously; water gives me a big, awesome thrill every time. And then my backyard is the most magical thing I can possibly imagine. It’s a wild kind of Jurassic Park-y kind of affair, and now seeing it kind of through the kids’ eyes, especially, is just eye-opening and transformational.
Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra play on Saturday, November 3, 8 p.m., at UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Call 893-3535 or see artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.