LOS ANGELES -- There's a tickle of delight when actors surprise us with other talents.
It's true in the case of supporting players -- for instance, Jane Krakowski, who plays Ally McBeal's secretary, displaying her show-stopping chops as a singer and dancer on the Fox series. Who knew we were looking at a musical star, not just a TV second banana?
Fans of NBC's "Days of Our Lives" got a chance for such discovery recently. Steve Blackwood proved he's more than an actor good at playing bad guy Bart Biderbeck: He's a jazz singer with style to spare.
Blackwood managed to sneak in a cabaret moment on the show last month, courtesy of the show's producers and one of those deliciously oddball soap-opera plot twists.
Let Blackwood, who just released his second compact disc, "Mood Swings," tell it:
"Bart works with Dr. Rolf, who does brain chip transplants, where they put a chip in somebody and they become someone else," Blackwood said, interrupting himself. "That's soap opera."
"My character says, 'Put a brain chip in me. I want to be Frank Sinatra,"' Blackwood said. To prove he can sing, Bart turns on the radio and, to an instrumental track, belts out "Honeysuckle Rose."
Blackwood has been appearing on "Days of Our Lives" since 1997. He filmed a guest role in CBS' "Judging Amy." And his music career has been sounding sweeter than ever, with the new CD and regular club appearances.
The album has a bluesy, big-band sound, with Blackwood essaying "Honeysuckle Rose," "Lady Be Good" and other standards, as well as his own compositions, including the haunting "Lauren."
Blackwood cut his first CD, "I Don't Worry 'Bout a Thing," with backing from a jazz quartet. "Just in Time," "Fever" and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" are among the songs.
He moves easily between ballads, adept scatting and smooth, upbeat tunes in which artists like Sinatra and Bobby Darin on "Mack the Knife" are a clear influence. "He's one of my heroes," Blackwood said of Darin. "He had a talent for songwriting, for country western, for blues, for swing."
Standards, not rock, were his musical love growing up.
"My mother would play old records like Al Jolson, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra. That's where I got my love for jazz and swing," Blackwood said. "When I was a teen-ager everybody was listening to Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin, and here's me in the back room listening to Louis Prima and Keely Smith."