This past week at the Hollywood Bowl was a special "Jazz at the Bowl" concert: "Play it Again: The Music from the Movies of Woody Allen". 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 Singers, 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, with the "Zelig Overture" performed by the orchestra before Stigers came out to sing "Chameleon" from the film. He was followed by the soft sultry voice of McKay singing " Charleston". From there, we moved on to music from Sweet and Lowdown, which had a lot of music by Django Reinhardt. Guitarist Howard Alden was excellent in his rendition of the tunes, and apparently he even played on the film too. Callaway's rendition of "All of Me" brought laughs from the audience as she gave us a few impressions along the way. Songs from Hanna and Her Sisters, and Radio Days, filled out the rest of the first half of the show - with a lot of music from the latter. Songs by Frank Sinatra, Cole Porter, Carmen Miranda and even a "vintage" radio jingle for "Relax" were performed, among others. Bernhard was pretty good with her singing, but sadly seemed to be the weakest of the bunch.
After the break, during the Purple Rose of Cairo segment, we heard the classic "Cheek to Cheek" crooned by Stigers. During Deconstructing Harry, 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 well, 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 fun Dixieland music Allen himself wrote for Sleeper, and Marvin Hamlisch's score to Bananas would have been nice to hear. But still, it was a fun night, with some great jazzy music.
Special thanks to Christine Pechera, and Matt Velasco at the Hollywood Bowl