We start out Monday to see the Hirschl & Adler Gallery, on E70th to see some pieces on exhibit by American Impressionist, Childe Hassam and then head west on E70th to
Once again, we find ourselves at the Loeb Boathouse Restaurant and there could be no more perfect day for lunch by the lake.
Tonight is the big night out on our trip. We’ve got dinner reservations at the Cafe Carlyle, to be followed by a live performance by Woody Allen & The Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band. We arrive promptly at 7:00 and the maitre de shows us to the “premium seating” we reserved weeks ago. The Café Carlyle is far smaller than I’d imagined. It serves as the backdrop for scenes from both Hannah and Her Sisters and Hollywood Ending. The murals on the walls are stunning and their dreamlike quality reminds me of Chagall. There is a piano and drum kit set up and four chairs lined up across the tiny stage. Four miniscule tables for two are directly up against the stage, literally two feet from the line of chairs. We’re seated at the table farthest left. I start out with a Kir Royale and we have dinner, which is spectacular.
We’re finishing our dessert and coffee when a heavyset gentleman with a ski jacket makes his way through the crowd and up to the stage. It’s Eddy Davis, the bandleader who was also in the documentary film, Wild Man Blues. One by one, the band members make their way in. The trombone player, Jerry Zigmont sits in the chair on the end, closest to us and we start chatting. He lets us know that the slide to his trombone will be going out at an angle toward the center of the room so we won’t get hit in the head -- that’s how close we are to him. Jerry tells us three of the current band members were on the Wild Man Blues tour. Jerry joined the group in 1996 and is featured on the soundtrack to the movie. Eddy Davis met Woody Allen while Woody was doing standup in
There’s movement from the corner of my eye and before I know it I hear Jerry saying “Hi Woody”. Woody Allen has slipped into his chair between the trumpet player, Simon Wettenhall and the band leader and banjo player, Eddy Davis. Without a word, the band begins to play. The room is suddenly captivated and all eyes are on Woody Allen. Allen is wearing baggy corduroys and a button down shirt and his eyes are closed most of the time. We feel ourselves becoming self-conscious for him. It’s a small room and we all know that even jazz aficionados are here to see Woody Allen, the celebrity filmmaker. The
The musicians are casual, upbeat and communicate in the shorthand that only artists who’ve been together for many years can know. Jerry mentions to Scott and I between songs that it’s especially noisy and he’s having trouble hearing. Simon, the trumpet player has lost his plunger, but we locate it by my feet and I pass it back to him.
Woody Allen closes his eyes or looks down at his lap most of the time. He’s pale and between numbers he pulls a wadded Kleenex from his pocket and blows his nose. Scott and I sense that he’s fragile and we try not to stare at him. After reading more about Woody Allen and his band mates, I think his unwillingness to look up and engage the crowd has more to do with respect for the other musicians and for the music than with self-consciousness.
Most of the musicians sing at some point over the course of the evening. Eddy is clearly the band leader and calls out the tunes and what keys they'll play them in. He watches Woody closely throughout the evening. We get the feeling he’s protecting him somehow. About an hour into it, Eddy introduces Jerry, Simon and the bass player, we applaud and they’re gone. Woody, Eddy, the pianist and the drummer stay on and play a few more songs. Eddy picks a song on the banjo and sings it while Woody Allen begins to break down his clarinet and place it into the case. Eddy turns to him and in his soft, almost childlike voice, Woody takes over the song as he finishes packing and puts his pullover sweater on. I wish I could tell you the name of the song because it was charming.
And then, with no more fanfare than when he came in, he stands up to leave. He’s a step from his chair and the man at the table next to ours stops him – Woody, I wanted to introduce you to my daughter, Georgia – Woody Allen nods and walks off stage and to the exit in the back of the room.
We settle our check and take the short walk across the street to The Surrey. Things still feel a little surreal. We've just spent the evening four feet from Woody Allen.