A year after issuing his debut album, The Capitol Studios Sessions, Jeff Goldblum returns to the piano and his band the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra with 2019's I Shouldn't Be Telling You This. The acclaimed actor brings a level of street cred to his musical endeavors that many celebrity-turned-musicians lack. A longtime jazz pianist, Goldblum actually started out playing gigs years before he embarked on his Hollywood career and has continued to moonlight as a pianist, regularly playing shows around Los Angeles and New York. While he displays a knack for straight-ahead jazz sophistication, it doesn't hurt that he surrounds himself with a bevy of top-notch pros, including Hammond B-3 specialist Joe Bagg who carries a lion's share of the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra's sound throughout the album. Also contributing are bassist Alex Frank, guitarist John Stone, drummer Kenny Elliott, and saxophonists James King and Scott Gilman. Together, they play a brightly attenuated brand of '60s-influenced jazz that brings to mind the groovy hard bop of Horace Silver crossed with the urbane soulfulness of Ramsey Lewis. As on The Capitol Studios Sessions, here Goldblum also features a handful of guest performers, including indie singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten, who acquits herself nicely on a dusky version of "Let's Face the Music and Dance." Similarly, Fiona Apple evokes Shirley Bassey's feline swagger on "Don't Worry 'Bout Me." One of Goldblum's more interesting choices on the album is to create unexpected mash-ups, as with his wryly swinging combination of Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder" and Sonny Bono's "The Beat Goes On" featuring singer Inara George. Also surprisingly effective is his arrangement of Wes Montgomery's "Four on Six" weaved together with Marianne Faithfull's "Broken English" and helmed with Weimar cabaret swagger by singer Anna Calvi. Somewhat less effective is Miley Cyrus' rendition of Ray Henderson and Lew Brown's standard "The Thrill Is Gone" paired with John Lewis' "Django," which while proving Cyrus has more vocal chops than she's often given credit for, trades the song's yearning subtlety for a Broadway-level theatricality that feels forced. Nonetheless, Goldblum's skill at showcasing other performers is clearly a part of his charm, and here it extends beyond pop artists as he brings on San Diego trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos for several tasty solos, spotlights L.A. jazz chanteuse Gina Saputo on an impressive vocalese version of "If I Knew Then," and communes with Grammy-winning vocalist Gregory Porter over a warm reading of "Make Someone Happy." While Goldblum's smiling charisma is the main selling point to I Shouldn't Be Telling You This, he often takes a backseat, even waiting until the very last song to spotlight his own lyrical vocal skills on the intimately rendered "Little Man, You've Had a Busy Day." It's an admirable choice given the high level of talent displayed by his guests and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. That said, Goldblum sounds good, and his fans probably wouldn't mind hearing more of him and less of his friends.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar