Woody Allen and His New Orleans Jazz Band performs at the Throckmorton Theatre on August 4 and 5, 2015. Photo courtesy Throckmorton Theatre.
Nearly 20 months ago, one of the greatest and most prolific filmmakers of our lifetime – one who’s left his own indelible imprint on each of the 44 films he’s directed to date – dipped into downtown Mill Valley to serve as just a nonchalant, self-effacing cog in a delightful ensemble performance of New Orleans jazz music at the Throckmorton Theatre.

Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band are back for another pair of gigs at the Throckmorton on August 4-5, and luckily for fans of New Orleans jazz, Woody Allen or both, a few tickets are still available to each show. Allen’s New Orleans Jazz Band, which has existed in one form or another for more than 35 years, draw from a repertoire that includes more than 1,200 traditional songs, mostly horn-soaked tunes that would incite a smile and a foot tap from even the most fun-resistant curmudgeons.

That’s largely due to the fact that Allen, a self-described terrible clarinet player, surrounds himself with a phenomenal cast of musicians, particularly band leader and banjo player Eddy Davis. The band is inspired by the likes of legends Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, George Lewis, Johnny Dodds and Jimmie Noone, and performs without a set list – Allen or Davis simply call out the next song before they all dive in.

In typical Woody Allen fashion, one his few utterances at the mic at his December 2013 Throckmorton shows featured a ribald joke to describe his frequent surprise that audiences are willing to turn out to hear him and his band perform live. The joke centered on a man who comes home to find his wife in bed with his best friend, at whom he says, “Really, Sam, you? I mean, I have to, but you?”

The line drew a burst of laughter from the sold-out house full, and it was followed by a night of fantastic New Orleans jazz. Here’s a taste:
Allen’s visits to the Throckmorton bring a dose of comedy history with them as well. Allen has been vocal over the years with his fondness for the brilliance of Mort Sahl, the legendary political comedian who has made Mill Valley – and thus the Throckmorton stage – his home for many years. 
At Sahl’s 80th birthday party in 2007, Allen sent a video message, telling of the first time he saw Sahl: “I was 21 … I just thought there was nothing else that could be done in comedy, and he was just the best thing that I had ever seen.”
Sahl will do a special introduction for the first of Allen’s two shows at the Throckmorton next week.
The 411: Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band perform at the Throckmorton Theatre on August 4 & 5. More info and tickets.

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