He came. We saw. He conquered my heart again.
As a lifelong fan of all things Woody Allen, I expected a pleasant evening when we got tickets to hear his New Orleans style jazz band play in Seattle. I hadn’t anticipated the joyous love-fest that filled the Paramount Theatre for two hours, as Woody and his band of top-notch musicians performed haunting melodies and foot-stomping tunes with hardly a pause for breath between numbers.
As the winner of numerous Oscars for his brilliant writing, Woody Allen has earned a place of honor in the American lexicon of filmmaking, but one of the most remarkable things in nearly all his films has been the soundtracks, all of which share the distinctive blend of classic songs from the golden age of American swing and jazz. It is from this rich storehouse, and from a deeper, less well-known reserve of blues, gospel, and dance hall tunes from the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s that Woody Allen’s repertoire derives its evocative power. This is music that can make you laugh and cry, sometimes in the space of a single song.
In his critically acclaimed 2011 film “Midnight in Paris,” Woody created a sublimely beautiful vision of the Paris every romantic has imagined, but it’s the soundtrack that works the magic, effectively transporting the audience from the crass materialistic sensibility of the modern world to the enchanting mystery that was Paris in the 1920s, when many of America’s best and brightest flocked there to partake of the city’s physical beauty, its cultural richness, its intellectual energy. Some of the soundtrack was performed by the same band members who just played in Seattle.
We’re still a long way from Paris, but it felt closer last night.