Imagine you're walking through Disneyland. You go down Main Street, wave to Walt and Mickey, continue through the castle and end up in New Orleans Square where you decide to stop and enjoy the jazz band when something suddenly catches your attention. Woody Allen is playing clarinet! That’s exactly the early Christmas treat that students and jazz and film enthusiasts alike enjoyed in Royce Hall at UCLA on the 23rd of December. It’s no Disneyland but hell at least you still get to see Woody Allen, and that was half the fun!
The ensemble consisted of a trombone and a trumpet player, an acoustic bass player, a drummer, a pianist on a stunning grand piano, the band leader (dubbed by Allen) on banjo and occasional vocals and, of course, none other than Mr. Woody Allen himself on clarinet. The very happy-go-lucky New Orleans style jazz that will add a spring to any step, a swing to any arm and a smile to any face - it’s like listening to a score of Woody walking down the street. Allen’s onstage mannerisms alone were amusing and most likely unintentionally so. Anyone who has seen a Woody Allen movie or even an allusion to his unprecedented character would enjoy seeing him play his clarinet. During the breaks while the other band members belted out their solos (in true jazz form), Allen would sit there cross-legged, and if it weren’t for his toe tapping in the air you could swear that he was asleep!
After the first few songs Allen approached the microphone and graciously thanked the audience for coming by claiming he was surprised people still showed up and true to form Allen spun the grateful salutation with a joke by saying, “It’s like walking in on another man with your wife. I’d say, ‘Ira how could you?! I mean, I have to do it, but you too?’" Opening with a priceless one-liner like that is proof enough that Mr. Allen and his multitalented artistry are worth seeing in any medium in which he performs or partakes.
Text by Bryan Kelly; Photos by Paula Tripodi
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