It’s surely a different kind of music festival when actor Jeff Goldblum and his band, the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, draw a sitting-room-only crowd to the tent where they’re playing Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk, straight-ahead jazz on a hot and humid afternoon in Pasadena.
But that’s the point of the Arroyo Seco Weekend, the inaugural edition of which kicked off its first of two days on Saturday on the golf course grounds that surround the Rose Bowl.
You can have jazz, as well as blues and country, folk and soul, and the classic American rock of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Goldblum came out alone and told the crowd, which now was standing, “After we’re done I’m going to come out and take pictures with everyone of you. I’m like Vito Corleone on his daughter’s wedding day, there’s no request I can refuse.”
He also did a bit of Jeff Goldblum movie trivia, a round of Who’d You Rather (Christopher Walken or Viggo Mortensen), and then it was time “for that hot jazz that all the kids are crazy for.”
Absolutely wonderful: great music, silly fun, sometimes both — a bossa nova version of Petty’s “American Girl” anyone? — and the highlight of the first half of the day.
Earlier, Arroyo Seco Weekend started slowly, laid back by its design, with more jazz — the Bennie Maupin Ensemble, led by Maupin, who played on landmark albums by Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, who also played the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival earlier this year so who knows, maybe Goldblum is right, the kids are crazy for it.
There was blues, too, via legendary British keyboard player and band leader John Mayall, at 83, still a fiery player, singing, playing the keys and harmonica, the latter two often at the same time.