Tooting His Own Horn

by Josef Woodard

LICORICE STICKLER: Whatever his other
contributions to the world’s store of knowledge and amusement,
Woody Allen should also be recognized as one of America’s poster
boys for a solid work ethic. Long ago, he settled in on his
creative life, and he has stuck to it, cranking out nearly a film a
year for 30 years — mostly of the comic variety, with occasional
visits to the dark sides of suspense or existential despair
(equipped with escape routes). Lesser known, during that entire
period, has been his passionate pursuit of the specific “trad jazz”
subgenre of New Orleans jazz, playing (and publicly practicing) his
clarinet in a band which has religiously held down Monday nights in
New York City for three decades, first at Michael’s Pub and now at
the Carlyle Hotel.

Allen’s musical personality now heads west for the band’s first
West Coast tour, and makes a stop at the Lobero Theatre on Sunday.
The last time Allen’s name hit a local marquee in any special,
Santa Barbara-specific way was when his film Melinda and Melinda
opened the Santa Barbara International Film Festival two years ago.
Unfortunately, most were not amused by the film, a great idea
thrown to the wind of a lazy realization. But Allen fans know that
something better is usually just around the corner in his
ever-unfolding filmography. Thus, along came the brilliant,
Hitchcockian Match Point, followed by this year’s good-enough
model, Scoop.

Woody has kept his double lives fairly separate throughout the
years, with periodic exceptions. Occasionally, he’ll include
smatterings of ’20s-era New Orleans jazz music in his soundtracks
(although he generally leans more toward Great American Songbook
sounds from the ’30s and ’40s), and his musical doppelgänger
persona made a rare big-screen appearance in the 1997 documentary
Wild Man Blues, which covered his band’s European tour. No doubt,
that film would have been spicier and more memorable had Allen gone
with his original idea for a director, Terry (Crumb, Bad Santa)
Zwigoff. Alas, Allen’s control freak within denied Zwigoff’s
request for final cut. Too bad for all of us. Yes, yes, but how is
Woody’s playing? Not bad for a white guy in the 21st century.
Passion compensates for his limitations, and he hires very well.
This concert should be a clean, fun, period-piece musical
encounter.

FRINGE PRODUCT GIFT GUIDE, PART ONE: In its
recent Campbell Hall visitation, Pink Martini reminded us of the
richer, more musical side of “lounge” music. When theatrical flair,
winking irony, and squeezable suavity are mixed with solid
musicianship, something magical can occur, something beyond mere
flippant lounge-ready party favors.

For historical reference, proceed to the supra-rangy exotica
legend Yma Súmac, who, in the 1950s, ranked with Martin Denny,
Esquivel, and Les Baxter as queen of exotic easy listening. Now,
the respected, resuscitated ESP-Disc label, former home of Albert
Ayler, Cecil Taylor, Patty Waters, and other fringe dwellers, has
just released Súmac’s Recital, recorded live in Romania in 1961 and
bristling with musicality and Peruvian colors, not cultural cheese.
In all, it’s a moody production number and a sturdy primer of Sumac
lore.

THE ART OF MOVING: Forget what springs to mind
when you hear the name Stockhausen, as in Karlheinz, breaker of
conventions and general 20th-century gadfly. By contrast, his son
Markus is a marvelous, versatile — blending classical chops, jazz,
and free improv fluency — and abidingly lyrical trumpeter. His
recent concerts at REDCAT in Los Angeles and then last Sunday,
capping off the Wondrous Other Minds Festival in San Francisco,
were enough to make converts of doubters. Stockhausen’s duo called
Moving Sounds, with clarinetist Tara Bouman, explored ideas where
lyricism, improvisational freedom, and spatial awareness prevailed,
and beautifully. Their work translates nicely to the recorded
medium, and their impressionistic, winter-reverie-suitable CD
Thinking About (Aktivraum) is well worth seeking out. Here is music
ripe for an introspective, atmospheric but not air-headed evening.
(Got e? fringebeat@independent.com.)

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