Monday, December 18, 2006
Woody the Woodwind Player
This weekend I got to check one item off my lifelong "to do" list--watch Woody Allen play his clarinet. I'd always wanted to check out his Monday night residency in New York, but had never gotten the chance. Luckily, he brought his New Orleans Jazz Band to L.A. as part of a nationwide tour.
It felt like a very New York night as I crossed the UCLA campus in my winter coat and scarf, fighting off the biting night air as I walked under the arches of a beautiful old building to see Woody Allen play live.
The band was terrific, playing rousing jazz numbers, spirituals, novelty songs and old standards. Most of the members of the group are veteran studio musicians with impressive resumes of their own.
Woody was demure throughout the show, gazing downwards whether he was playing his instrument or not. He was wearing wheat-colored corduroy pants and dabbed his nose occasionally with a kerchief from his pocket. Evidently he had a head cold, because he sounded congested the few times he walked up to the microphone to talk to the audience.
With self-deprecating charm, he explained that his ensemble plays for fun and hopes their musical offerings are passable entertainment. His best line of the evening, though, was when he was giving a final sign-off and said: "Now you can judge for yourself which is worse, my clarinet playing or my movies."
Oh, Woody. You had me at Take the Money and Run.