Prolific film director, actor and writer Woody Allen has long pursued another interest and talent of his: jazz. Music has always played an important role in his life, both personal and professional. The iconically neurotic New Yorker first picked up the clarinet at age 15 and has played the instrument regularly ever since.
In 1952, Allen Konigsberg adopted the stage name Woody Allen, inspired by famed jazz clarinettist Woody Herman. Soon after, he met his first wife, Harlene Rosen, while rehearsing as part of a one-time jazz trio for which he played soprano sax and she played piano.
The musician began performing in his native city in the 1960s and made one of his first televised appearances on The Dick Cavett Show on October 20, 1971.
All that jazz
Jazz often features prominently in Allen's films. Manhattan, his famed 1979 homage to New York City, opens with a lush 15 minute arrangement of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, and Allen himself contributed to the soundtrack of his 1973 film Sleeper, accompanied by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
More recently, Sweet and Lowdown (1999) follows the adventures of Emmet Ray (played by Sean Penn), a jazz guitarist whose idol is none other than the great Django Reinhardt.
As part of his New Orleans Jazz Band, the clarinettist performs Monday nights at The Carlyle hotel in New York. The ensemble released Bunk Project in 1993 and Wildman Blues, the soundtrack to a documentary that follows the group on a European tour, in 1997.
The multiple Academy Award winner is modest when it comes to being a musician. He prefers small venues and, often due to a heavy filming schedule, rarely performs outside New York. Nevertheless, Allen appeared at the Festival for two nights in 2008.