Woody Allen on his Terrible Music


Aidin Vaziri | Taking a break from doing the promotional rounds for “Irrational Man,” his 45th feature film as a director, Woody Allen was more than eager to talk about his upcoming tour dates with his New Orleans Jazz Band. As the clarinetist for the veteran group of musicians, which has a repertoire of some 1,500 Dixieland songs, Allen, 79, realizes he is the weakest link but figures he makes up for it with his enthusiasm. Having played since he was a teenager, he performed in public for the first time in the early ’60s at Earthquake McGoon’s, a North Beach jazz club. He returns to the Bay Area for three dates this week.

Q: You got your start as a semiprofessional musician in San Francisco. What do you remember about those days?

A: That’s right. I wouldn’t have played jazz if it wasn’t for San Francisco. It was Turk Murphy’s constant reassurance that I wasn’t as horrible as I thought I was that kept me playing. It was really him that bears the responsibility. I remember we would shoot “Take the Money and Run” until 7 p.m. and then have dinner and then I would get back to the hotel and pull the covers over my head and practice the clarinet so I could play the next night.

Q: You have been playing for so long. Do you feel like you have at least become an acceptable musician?

A: No, I don’t have it. I don’t have an ear for music. I don’t have a sense of time. I’m tolerated because people like my movies. That’s really what it is. If I had to make a living as a musician, I would starve.

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