It turns out his highly-regarded films aren’t the only thing legendary moviemaker Woody Allen improvises.
There’s all that jazz.
Old jazz. A canon culled from the artform’s birthplace, New Orleans. That’s right, Academy Award-winner Woody Allen plays simple jazz with a small band; more specifically he plays the clarinet.
And he, along with his fellow music makers in his New Orleans Band — band director Eddy Davis, pianist Conal Fowkes, trumpet player Simon Wettenhall, trombonist Jerry Zigmont, John Gil on drums and Greg Cohen on bass — will be pulling into the State Theatre at 7 p.m. Sunday in Minneapolis.
If you’re looking for stories of his fabled, and sometimes controversial, film career, Allen fans will be disappointed. This is a free-form, no-set list affair, with the prolific director and his band playing from a catalogue of over 1,000 popular 20th century tunes, a mixture of blues, rags, spirituals, even hymns.
Despite missing the Academy Awards ceremony for years to play his standing Monday night jazz gig at Michael’s Pub, and later the famous Carlyle Hotel, millions of Allen’s fans apparently have been clueless he plays the clarinet, and in fact, practices it almost every day.
There was even a noted 1997 documentary, “Wild Man Blues,” documenting Allen and his New Orleans Band as they traveled the globe giving informal concerts.
Be prepared. By all accounts this is the “ancient dialect of jazz,” a primitive music that Allen and his musicians call “crude,” but in an acceptable way.
“It’s like taking a bath in honey, or something,” Allen once said of the music he’s been obsessed with since his teenage years.
It’s a pure experience, he’s said, with nothing between you and that feeling; in every way non-cerebral. For the noted 79-year-old chameleon of comedy, drama and neurosis, that’s something that can’t always be said of the voluminous films in his staggering 50-year career.
But, for something a little different than you’d expect from Allen, the chance to watch him blow his horn, tickets are still available. Just don’t think about it too much.