The master of neurotic comedy shows off his other talent at the Paramount Theatre.
What: Woody Allen is best known as an award-winning film director, actor, screenwriter and playwright — but the man is also an accomplished musician. In fact, Allen has played the clarinet with his group, the New Orleans Jazz Band, for more than 35 years, and their current repertoire includes roughly 1,200 songs. Inspired by Big Easy innovators like George Lewis, Sidney Bechet, Johnny Dodds and Louis Armstrong, this highly talented — and energetic — ensemble puts on a rockin’ good show.
Who: Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band began as musicians gathering for jam sessions. These informal gatherings quickly evolved into regular concerts and eventually a standing gig at the famous Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan.
Woody Allen began his career as a comedy writer — by age 19, he was writing scripts for The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show — but he first rose to prominence as a stand-up comedian in Greenwich Village. In 1966, he published his first play, “Don’t Drink the Water,” and directed his first film, “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?” Since then, Allen has written and directed more than 40 feature films and earned 21 Academy Award nominations. Some of his best known works include “Annie Hall (1977),” “Manhattan (1979),” “Interiors (1978),” “Hannah and her Sisters (1986),” “Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989),” “Match Point (2005)” and “Midnight in Paris (2011).”
Long before his success in Hollywood, Allen was a clarinetist. He learned to play the instrument as a kid — and even took his stage name from bandleader Woody Herman. Throughout his career, Allen has professed his love for jazz — and hand-picked jazz songs for the soundtracks to many of his films.
Woody Allen and His New Orleans Jazz Band made their film debut in “Wild Man Blues,” a 1997 documentary that chronicled the band’s European tour a year earlier. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the band’s first U.S. tour included a set at the Rochester International Jazz Festival to benefit the New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund.
Other band members include Eddy Davis (director and banjo), Jerry Zigmont (trombone,) Conal Fowlkes (piano), Simon Wettenhall (trumpet), Greg Cohen (string bass), and John Gill (drums).