Woody Allen & Music: 6 Things You Need to Know! (+ Videos)

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Many people know Woody Allen as an excellent actor, film writer, and director. But only a few are aware Woody Allen is a proficient musician too.

For those who don’t know, Woody Allen has been a musician from childhood and still is. He plays a musical instrument, is in a band, and goes on tour playing in different locations worldwide. And we’re going to talk about it all in this article. Let’s jump straight into it.

What is Woody Allen Known For?

As you may already be aware, Woody Allen has made a name for himself in the movie industry, in a career that has spanned several decades. 

He has written, directed, and starred in several Academy Award-winning films. Some of his famous films include “Manhattan” (1979) and “Annie Hall” (1977).

Woody Allen is known for being a great film director. He has made over 45 movies. Due to this, he has received many honors and accolades in the movie industry. 

He has won several awards as a comedian as well. Additionally, he has published several books as an author.

Is Woody Allen Considered a Good Musician?

If you have known Woody Allen only for his roles in the movie, writing, and comedy industries, you might assume that his playing skill on the clarinet is dreadful, especially if you have not heard him play at all. 

However, that is not the case. Woody Allen is a decent musician. He is a good clarinetist and very knowledgeable when it comes to music.

Woody Allen began playing the clarinet as a child. While growing up, his ambition was to become a professional musician. Even though that didn’t happen as he would have liked, right from the late 1960’s he has regularly performed publicly on the clarinet.

Woody Allen is a member of a jazz band that regularly plays every week in Manhattan, New York City. They also embark on music tours across Europe and have released a couple of CD soundtracks as well.

However, Woody Allen considers himself a hobby musician and not a professional one. He even likens himself to a Sunday tennis player. 

Even though this is how Woody Allen describes himself as a musician, you should not let his modesty deceive you. I mean, this is someone who has been playing music consistently for over 50 years. 

If you doubt what I’m saying, take time to watch this interview of Woody Allen on the “Dick Cavett Show,” where he plays the clarinet on stage.

What Musical Instruments Does Woody Allen Play?

Woody Allen is known to play only one musical instrument. The musical instrument Woody Allen plays is the clarinet. Woody Allen derived his earliest inspiration for playing the clarinet from Sidney Bechet. However, his idol was a famous clarinetist by the name of Woody Herman. 

Thus, even though Woody Allen was originally named Allan Stewart Konigsberg at birth, he chose his stage name “Woody Allen” from his idol Woody Herman.

Woody Allen started playing the clarinet right from childhood. One of his clarinet tutors while growing up was Gene Sedric. By his admission, Woody Allen considers himself a not-so-great clarinet player. 

However, this can be debated. This is because he is very proficient at playing the clarinet. I mean, won’t you be if you’ve been playing the clarinet consistently since childhood? 

In fact, nowadays, Woody Allen’s style of playing the clarinet bears some glimpses of one of the clarinet greats by the name of George Lewis.

Woody Allen owns quite many clarinets. The most popular ones in his collection are the 1920s-made Selmer clarinet and the French-made Buffet. However, he usually plays an Italian-made clarinet.

What Kind of Jazz Does Woody Allen play?

Right from his teenage years, Woody Allen has been a strong jazz fan. Due to his strong passion for jazz, this genre of music has featured significantly as soundtracks to lots of his films. 

However, the type of Jazz Woody Allen likes to play is the vintage ragtime rhythms type of jazz and their singalong melodies. In plain terms, Woody Allen likes to play the classic New Orleans style of jazz.

Woody Allen has always been drawn to the New Orleans jazz style. Therefore, even though his teen years coincided with the dominance of the bebop type of jazz, it didn’t pique his interest. 

Due to this, while growing up as a teenager in Brooklyn, Woody Allen made lots of trips to the Manhattan Jazz Record Center to learn more and listen to the vintage New Orleans type of jazz.

Thus, it is not surprising that Woody Allen is a member of a New Orleans-style jazz band. He plays as part of this band on Monday nights in the city of Manhattan. Woody Allen and his band specialize in playing classic New Orleans jazz tunes.

Did Woody Allen Play Clarinet at Midnight in Paris?

Woody Allen did not play the clarinet in the movie “Midnight in Paris.” And he was also not part of the cast that acted in the movie. In this movie, the melodious clarinet tune played in the intro scene was by Sidney Bechet, one of Woody Allen’s favorite clarinetists.

The movie “Midnight in Paris,” released in 2011, was written and directed by Woody Allen. It is Woody Allen’s top-grossing movie ever, hence considered one of Woody Allen’s best movies. The setting of this movie is the city of Paris. 

The movie follows the life of a screenwriter who has relationship issues with his fiancée and has to come to terms with the fact that their lives are incompatible. This movie did not feature any tune from Woody Allen.

However, some of Woody Allen’s performances on the clarinet can be heard in the documentary “Wild Man Blues.” This documentary talks about the European tour Woody Allen and his New Orleans Band went on in 1996.

Where Does Woody Allen Play Jazz?

Woody Allen plays the clarinet as part of a New Orleans Jazz Band at Carlyle Hotel café in Manhattan every Monday evening. He has been doing this since the year 1997. 

The Carlyle Hotel café is located on the corner of Madison Avenue, in the center of Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The Carlyle Hotel, where Woody Allen performs, has been prominently featured in some of his movies. One of such movies is “A Rainy Day In New York.”

This hotel has a reputation for housing a host of politicians, royalty, and celebrities. Some of the famous people to have stayed at the Carlyle Hotel include Princess Diana, Steve Jobs, Micheal Jackson, and many others. 

It has been reported that Prince Harry and Megan Markle stayed in this hotel when they visited New York City. Here is a video of the legendary Chick Corea playing with Woody Allen’s band at Carlyle café in New York

Before playing at Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan, Woody Allen used to perform at Micheal’s Pub, also in New York City. Years ago, apart from New York City, Woody Allen rarely performed elsewhere. However, that is no longer the case. 

In the year 2008, Woody Allen played the clarinet at a concert in Warsaw in front of an audience of about 3,000 people.

In recent years, Woody and his band have been known to take a break from playing at the Carlyle Hotel in June. This is done in order to embark on European tours as a band. 

In the year 2019, they played in Belgium and Spain. In 2017, they performed in London at the magnificent Royal Albert Hall. He has also performed at a concert at Sala Kongresowa with his New Orleans Jazz Band.

The break from playing at the Carlyle Hotel usually happens before he makes a film. After making the film, he also took a summer break from playing the clarinet to promote the movie. 

If you are interested in watching Woody Allen perform live with the New Orleans Jazz Band at Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan, you can book tickets from the hotel’s website.


In summary, Woody Allen can be described as a man of many skills and talents. He plays the clarinet and has been actively involved in the world of music right from the early 1960s. Woody Allen has always been a passionate jazz fan. 

However, his favorite type of jazz is the New Orleans style of jazz. Thus, he is a member of a New Orleans Jazz Band that regularly plays in Manhattan and other places across Europe.