CULTURE

Woody Allen plays in Athens

The truth probably is that the overwhelming majority of concertgoers who saw Woody Allen and his band perform at the Athens Concert Hall last year were either fans of the famed director’s films or individuals who were curious to see a celebrity on stage. Most likely, only a small number attended the Athens venue for the event’s musical side. The same can probably be expected for Allen’s latest visit and shows tomorrow and Saturday at the Greek capital’s Badminton Theater. Allen, who will perform as a member of the New Orleans Jazz Band, has made blatantly clear his love for jazz in his films. The prolific filmmaker also appreciates, to a lesser extent, classical music, as was indicated by the soundtracks of two of his latest movies. In the eyes of many fans, Allen epitomizes New York’s Manhattan district and jazz scene. In a sense, the upcoming Athens shows could be perceived as an imaginary soundtrack – or a film that Allen hasn’t shot but we feel certain we’ve seen before. Though the director’s musical side may seem odd to most, the New Orleans Jazz Band’s leader, Eddy Davis, explained that Allen had long been playing clarinet before he turned to filmmaking. «I met him in Chicago in 1964. He hadn’t begun working in film yet. He was doing stand-up comedy at a well-known club. I was playing with my band one block down the road. Every now and then, Mr Allen brought along his clarinet and played with us. So I met him as a musician. For me, he’s simply a friend, one of my musicians,» said Davis. «A band functions like a team and I’m the leader, just as he was the leader when I worked as an actor in his film ‘Sweet and Lowdown.’ He generally gets very passionate about music, as is the case with whatever he gets involved in. He’s been practicing every day since the age of 15. Out of modesty, he himself says that he has no [musical] talent, but even if he didn’t have talent, the work he’s put into it qualifies him as an expert on the clarinet,» he continued. Allen and Davis became regular musical collaborators back in 1980. The New Orleans Jazz Band covers preclassical jazz territory. «We don’t play Dixieland or swing, but jazz or jass, as this type of music was called when it first emerged. Swing, bee-bop, and so on, came later on,» said Davis. Born in Indiana, Davis began playing music as a youngster. «I started off with drums, then cello and tuba,» he recalled. He went on to become a frequent performer at clubs in New York, and a range of European cities, including Budapest. As a recording artist, Davis has worked with a considerable number of other prominent jazz figures, such as Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Milt Hinton and Freddie Moore. Besides «Sweet and Lowdown,» Davis has made a number of other film appearances, including «Wild Man Blues,» a documentary about Woody Allen and the New Orleans Jazz Band.