Allen is a passionate fan of jazz which is often featured prominently in his movies' soundtracks. He has played the clarinet since adolescence and chose his stage name from an idol, famed clarinetist Woody Herman. He has performed publicly at least since the late-1960s, notably with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on the soundtrack of Sleeper. One of his earliest televised performances was on The Dick Cavett Show on October 20, 1971.
Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band play every Monday evening at Manhattan's Carlyle Hotel, specializing in classic New Orleans jazz from the early twentieth century. The documentary film Wild Man Blues (directed by Barbara Kopple) documents a 1996 European tour by Allen and his band, as well as his relationship with Previn. The band has released two CDs: The Bunk Project (1993) and the soundtrack of Wild Man Blues (1997).
The beautiful soundtrack to Woody Allen's movie Manhattan begins with a sixteen minute, lush arrangement of Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue with Gary Graffman at the piano and Zubin Mehta. All this over cinematographer Gordon Willis' breath taking visuals of the New York landscape. Together with Gershwin, the stage is set for Woody's masterpiece.
Rhapsody In Blue by The New York Philharmonic sparkles like crystal--and that's only the beginning. Land Of The Gay Caballero also features a great musical arrangement with great brass, horns and percussion. Someone To Watch Over Me and I've Got A Crush On You making good use of the percussion. 'S Wonderful is another Gershwin tune that sounds fresh and new in the capable hands of these fine artists.