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Tooting His Own Horn

LICORICE STICKLER: woody_allen_plays_clarinet_std.jpgWhatever 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 on the story of his creative life, and 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 NYC for three decades, first
at Michael’s Pub and now the Carlyle Hotel.

Allen’s musical personality heads west for the band’s first wets
coast tour, and stops at the Lobero
Theatre
on Sunday, a fine musical op in a fine old hall. The
last time Allen’s name hit a local marquee in any special, Santa
Barbara-specific way, it 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’s just around the corner
in his ever-unfolding filmography. Along came the brilliant
Hitchcockian Match Point, followed by this year’s good
enough model, Scoop.

The double life of Woody has been kept fairly separate over 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 towards Great American Songbook
sounds from the ‘30s and ‘40s), and his musical doppelganger
persona made a rare big screen appearance in the 1998 documentary
Wild
Man Blues
, covering 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 Zwigoff
(Crumb, Bad Santa). 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. Should be a clean, fun period piece musical encounter.
FRINGE PRODUCT GIFT GUIDE, PART ONE: yma_sumac.jpgIn 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 Sumac, who, in
the 1950s, ranked with Martin Denny, Esquivel and Les Baxter as a
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
Sumac’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, markus_stockhausen_200.jpgjazz and free improv fluency—and
abidingly lyrical trumpeter. His recent concerts at REDCAT in Los
Angeles and last Sunday, capping off the Other Minds festival in
San Francisco, were enough to make converts of doubters. While the
concert’s second half involved a group improvisation with
L.A.-based players, the real focus was on Stockhausen’s duo called
Moving Sound, with clarinetist Tara
Bouman
.

Their work translates nicely to the recorded medium, as well,
and their impressionistic, winter-reverie-suitable CD Thinking
About
(Aktivraum) is
well worth seeking out. Here is ripe music for an introspective,
atmospheric but not air-headed evening.

(got e? fringebeat@independent.com).

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