When Woody Met Duke

Richard Schickel‘s “Woody Allen: A Life in Film,” which joins a fascinating study of its subject’s work to an extended interview with the filmmaker, offers an encounter I’d not previously heard about.

Allen, a clarinetist and well-known aficionado of traditional (early) jazz who plays with the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band every Monday night at Cafe Carlyle in Manhattan, in the course of the interview discusses an early encounter with Duke Ellington.

He brings up fond memories of skipping school and taking the train from his family’s home in Brooklyn to Manhattan, where he’d spend the day at the movies.

duke ellington at the paramount“…going into the Paramount Theater at ten o’clock in the morning, knowing I didn’t have to go to school, and seeing a movie, and then when the movie was over, rising out of the pit would be Duke Ellington and you’d hear ‘Take the A Train’ filling that theater. You know, it would take the top of your head off.”

Schickel’s book, published in 2003, before Allen’s unexpected commercial renaissance with “Match Point,” “Vicky Christina Barcelona” and particularly 2011’s “Midnight in Paris,” his biggest hit, can be found here.

Anyone interested in the Allen/jazz connection might also want to take a look at 1997’s “Wild Man Blues,” the Barbara Kopple-directed film documenting Allen’s 1996 tour of Europe with his band.

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