Heidi Siegmund Cuda
May 10, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

In the 1984 cult flick The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, Peter Weller played a neurosurgeon/physicist/rock & roll superhero. But in reality, the chiseled Texas native (probably best known for inhabiting RoboCop’s armor) is a Renaissance man of almost equal unlikeliness: an actor/director/jazz trumpet player who has teamed up with fellow multiple threat Jeff Goldblum (actor/director/pianist) to take Hollywood by the horn.

The two met filming Banzai, and whenever both are in L.A. on a Saturday night, they recruit guitarist Peter Harris and L.A. studio bassist Kim Darigan and trot down to Le Petit Four, an intimate Sunset Boulevard bistro that discreetly features their quartet, collectively misnamed Three Guys From Italy.

”It’s a different form of acting,” says Goldblum, who picked up the Pittsburgh yellow pages at age 15 to book himself piano gigs. He’s even played in a few movies, including The Fly. ”It’s nice to exercise improvising musically, which isn’t too far from what I try to do in acting.”

Although the group favors standards such as ”I’m Old Fashioned” and ”My Funny Valentine,” prospective listeners should be prepared for an approach Weller calls ”offbeat.”

”Some people come in expecting straight-ahead jazz,” he says, ”and they hear Goldblum go off on the meaning of ‘Stella by Starlight.”’

Clearly, this is not intended as a commercial endeavor. Indeed, Weller — in London directing his first feature, Incognito (which Harris is scoring) — says Woody Allen persuaded them to play in public. ”Woody said, ‘You’ve got to play live, even if there’s only one person in the joint.”’ But a lot can happen in a year: The quartet’s first gigs were attended by ”about three people,” guesses Weller. ”Now, we’re happy to say, we pack the place. Our friends can’t get in.” Of course, a few friends with names like Robert Altman, Christy Turlington, and James Woods have wiggled their way in somehow.

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