The Prickle (@ThePrickle) November 18, 2018
Trump’s election marked a turning point for the irreparable blurring of vocations. Our capacity for adjunct career diversions was nevertheless pleasantly jolted when, in 2017, post-interview with Graham Norton, Jeff Goldblum side-stepped to the piano and accompanied Gregory Porter performing Mona Lisa. Fast-forward 12 months and Goldblum has sold out four performances at Cadogan Hall and Ronnie Scott’s.
A debut performance at EFG’s London Jazz Festival might be cause for some nerves, but Goldblum is the epitome of self-confidence: he swaggers onto stage oozing his trademark brand of cool and managing to make even the mundanity of anecdotes about today’s lunch menu sound charismatic. It’s ten minutes before he takes a seat at the piano for a quick romp through Nostalgia in Times Square and a further fifteen minutes before he plays another note. Goldblum seems most at ease wondering around centre stage hosting cinema quizzes or games of true or false (topics including his dental history and past dabblings with Parkour), but his piano playing is no disappointment: it’s often performed one-handed with his legs crossed or stretching deep beneath the keys, his fingers probing at the extreme lower and upper octaves as though the lid could slam shut on them at any moment. He seems to be aiming for something Thelonious Monk-esque but, whilst they share a mystique, his playing remains definitively Goldblum-esque
When Jeff risks getting too distracted with the queue of selfie-seeking fans, he has the five-piece Mildred Snitzer Orchestra to get him back on track. The classiest performance comes from guitarist John Storie even when the repertoire choices verge on the Jurassic: Cantaloupe Island and Autumn Leaves strike as the first explorations of a teenage student rather than the curation of a life-long jazz enthusiast. Imelda May’s arresting guest-vocals brought focus to jazz when comedy was muscling for headline billing, but this remained Goldblum’s show: no one else can make breaking the rules look such irresistible fun.
The EFG London Jazz Festival has no shortage of exceptional pianists performing over the next ten days, but amongst them Jeff Goldblum has carved a niche of his own simply by being unwaveringly Jeff Goldblum.