Aidin Vaziri | Woody Allen is a great filmmaker and, by his own admission, a terrible clarinet player. That doesn’t mean you should miss seeing him and his New Orleans Jazz Band at the Throckmorton Theatre on Sunday. The outfit is one of the few active bands that perform Dixieland jazz, with a repertoire that includes some 1,500 traditional songs. Also, the musicians in the group – led by banjo player Eddy Davis – are quite remarkable. Most of them, anyway.
“Believe it or not, to be as bad as I am, I have to practice every day,” said Allen in a rare interview, repeating one of his favorite lines.
He may be modest about his musical skills, but Allen, 78, has played the instrument since he was a teenager growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950s, when he got private lessons from Fats Waller’s clarinetist, Gene Sedric. For several years, Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band have held a Monday night residency at the Carlyle Hotel in New York, playing sold-out shows week after week.
As the auteur behind silver-screen classics like “Manhattan” and “Hannah and Her Sisters,” he knows why people show up and it isn’t because they’re discerning fans of the pioneering strain of jazz popularized nearly a century ago by the likes of Sidney Bechet, George Lewis and Bunk Johnson. Allen’s not interested in proselytizing, either.
“I don’t win them over as a musician,” Allen said. “They come because they have seen me in the movies, and then as musician I lose them.”