Woody on Woodwinds

Before unthinkably poor politics and preparation let a storm break its levees and tar its shores, before television made it a landfill for unsolicited pity, New Orleans was an incomparable den of iniquity. In pre-Katrina mythology, the city was a place of back-alleys and brassy jazz, a hub of sweltering heat and sexual savoir faire. It was tits on toast. It is of note that Woody Allen has long been living out loud — working to thrust New Orleans and its definitive jazz back into the gutter where it belongs. The auteur's longstanding love of jazz is no secret. He borrowed his stage name from clarinetist Woody Herman, opened his valentine to New York (Manhattan) with flourishes of Gershwin, and, notably, laid down tracks for 1973 dystopian flick, Sleeper. But gone are the days of Allen's overzealous and awkward musical peacocking. The clarinetist finds contentment in the simple cycle of performance and self-crucifixion. Woody Allen & His New Orleans Jazz Band embark on their first multicity tour of California, breaking from a regular gig at New York's Carlyle Hotel. Notable among the lineup is Jerry Zigmont, a trombonist who has played and toured with Allen and the band for a decade and who has 30 years experience in New Orleans style. Tonight's concert is a nostalgic jaunt down early 20th-century NOLA, promising improvisation from a repertoire of 1,200 songs. The grit of New Orleans may have finally been baptized by a cultural force majeure, but for two stolen hours we're allowed to forget our politeness and revel in sleazy sanctity of The Big Easy.
Wed., Dec. 28, 8 p.m., 2011

 
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