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woody allen clarinet, clarinet playing, jazz clarinet
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Woody Allen: clarinet player

Woody Allen: clarinet player is probably not as well known as Woody Allen: director, but both are one and the same. However, it is his clarinet playing that has kept Allen from appearing at the Oscars – every year he is invited he claims that he has a prior engagement playing his regular gig at Michael’s Pub, and now at the Carlyle.

Woody Allen started learning the clarinet in 1950. He has now been playing as part of Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band for over 25 years. The other members of the group are Simon Wettenhall (trumpet), Jerry Zigmont (trombone), Cynthia Sayer (piano), Conal Flokes (bass), Rob Garcia (percussion) and Eddy Davis (banjo). Allen uses a traditional Albert system clarinet like many of the traditional jazz clarinet players before him.

In 1996 Allen and director Barbara Kopple recorded Allen's 1996 concert tour of Europe with his band. This became the documentary film ‘Wild Man Blues’, released in 1998. Covering 18 venues in 23 days, the documentary showcases some of Woody Allen’s great ability as a clarinet player, though this is not a ‘concert film’ and spends a lot of time on Allen’s complicated private life.

Woody Allen has played clarinet on the soundtrack of many of his movies, including ‘Sleeper’ (1972) and of course ‘Wild Man Blues’. Clarinet plays an important part in Allen’s life, and he mentions it often in interviews. Talking about his everyday life, Allen is quoted as saying “I'm a creature of middle-class habits. I practise my clarinet.”

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written by Natalia Forrest


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