The Music of Woody Allen at the Bowl

Dan Showbiz

Went to the Hollywood Bowl tonight with Christine. Got there early and ate dinner in the hot (but cooling) outdoors. Parking was amazing – they kept a lane open so that the stacked parking wasn’t a “trap” when the concert ended (typically you found yourself stuck between cars that were unoccupied – so you had to wait for the owners to come back so you could leave) – so we were able to just leave when we were done!

The concert was Jazz at the Bowl: “Play it Again: The Music from the Movies of Woody Allen”. Whew – that’s a title. Basically, it was an evening of jazz and oldies that were featured in Allen’s films. Featuring the Hollywood Bowl Jazz Orchestra and the Mitch Hanlon Singer under the direction of Allen’s main composer/arranger, Dick Hyman, the show also had four guest soloists: Sandra Bernhard, Ann Hampton Callaway, Nellie McKay, and Curtis Stigers.

The concert started with music from Zelig, then moved on to Sweet and Lowdown, Hanna and Her Sisters, and Radio Days, before the intermission. The songs ranged from the instrumental music of Django Reinhardt and Duke Ellington, to songs from Cole Porter, Carmen Miranda, and Frank Sinatra. After the break, during the Purple Rose of Cairo segment, trumpet soloist Byron Stripling – who had been doing an amazing job so far – stole the show, with his amazing rendition of “Dream a Little Dream of Me”.

Of course, music from Allen’s musical Everyone Says I Love You was played as welll, with McKay’s “Just You, Just Me” being a personal favorite. George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” (used in Manhattan) was played, albeit a tad sloppy, as well as a group effort of “When You’re Smiling” from Mighty Aphrodite. The concert ended with “As Time Goes By”, heard in Play It Again, Sam.

All in all, it was a fine concert – the performances ranged from excellent (mainly those involving McKay, Calloway, and Stripling), to decent (Bernhard and Stigers had their ups and downs). I was personally disappointed that most of Allen’s 1970’s films were overlooked, as the music heard in Sleeper and Bananas used some fun Dixieland jazz that helped set the tone of what a “Woody Allen Movie” is. But still, it was a fun night, with some great jazzy music.