CULTURE

Woody Allen to play his clarinet in Athens

Two passionate lovers meet at the Athens Concert Hall tomorrow night as Woody Allen and jazz join musical forces in a singular live concert. The celebrated writer/director/actor comes to the Greek capital together with his New Orleans Jazz Band for an evening dedicated to great classics and more. Jazz may be intrinsically linked to Allen’s filmography, yet critics note that he is an accomplished musician in his own right. He began playing jazz in his teens and has since developed a broad repertoire of popular works, including those of Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, among others. For years, fans used to form long queues outside Michael’s Pub in Manhattan to get a glimpse of Allen jamming along with the New Orleans Jazz Band. These days, however, the jazz ensemble goes on stage every Monday at Madison Avenue’s Carlyle. The band Besides Allen (and his clarinet), the New Orleans Jazz Band features Eddy Davis (he is the band’s artistic director and plays the banjo), Simon Wettenhall (trumpet), Jerry Zigmont (trombone), Cynthia Sayer (piano), Conal Fowlkes (string bass) and Rob Garcia on the drums. What’s more, tomorrow’s Athens Concert Hall performance marks the end of the band’s 2005 tour. Throughout the month of December, Allen and the New Orleans Jazz Band played to packed houses in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Turkey, while the ensemble’s New York appearances will resume at the Carlyle on January 9. Having just turned 70 (on December 1), Allen seems to have had a good year thus far – especially compared to previous ones in the 1990s, for instance. Think of the sensational family scandal that resulted in Allen’s dramatic split from companion Mia Farrow and his subsequent marriage to Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn (the couple now have two children, while Allen admits that he has no contact with the children he has with Farrow). Movie blues Then came the movie problems. Critics blasted quite a few of his movie efforts and Allen got immersed in yet another scandal, suing Jean Doumanian, a longtime friend and the producer of a number of his films, for cheating him out of profits. Even New York City seemed to be letting him down. For all his troubles, however, it looks like Allen is currently making a strong comeback. Having found refuge in London, he has completed «Match Point» and has just finished his next feature, «Scoop.» Starring Scarlett Johansson, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Emily Mortimer and Matthew Goode, «Match Point» is a drama about lust, ambition and social climbing. Rave reviews have accompanied its release so far, it has been nominated for a number of Golden Globe awards and is an Oscar hopeful. Back on the jazz front, audiences got a taste of Allen’s musical gifts in «Wind Man Blues,» a 1997 documentary directed by Barbara Kopple. In the film, Allen and the band tour Europe; Soon-Yi Previn shows power of character. One of the documentary’s highlights has the couple visiting Allen’s parents back in New York, where his mother laments the fact that her son didn’t marry a proper Jewish girl. In Athens, for all those who acquired the hot – and mighty expensive – tickets, tomorrow’s concert also features a charity angle with part of the proceeds going to a blind music student in order to enable him to continue his education abroad. Being Woody Allen For all his success – including three Oscars so far – Allen remains a man of particularly low self-esteem. «People think I’m an intellectual because I wear glasses and they think I’m an artist because my films lose money,» he told BBC TV earlier this month. Well, let the psychiatrists take care of all that (though chances are slim, considering that Allen has been in therapy for years) and leave the Woody Allen global public to dislike, enjoy or simply follow the journey of man whose only regret in life is that he is not someone else. Athens Concert Hall, Vassilissis Sofias & Kokkali, tel 210.728.2333. Prices set at 150, 200, 250 and 300 euros. A very limited number of tickets is still available.