Submitted by ub on Thu, 01/12/2012 - 17:56

Director - Woody Allen (95min, USA, 1999) - Rated PG-13

In association with Producer Darren Wallis

Film begins at 6:30pm and will be followed by a short on-stage conversation about the making of the soundtrack and working with Sean Penn. The conversation will be followed by the live concert.

"Emmet Ray is a fictional character, but so convincing in Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown that he seems like a real chapter of jazz history we somehow overlooked." - Roger Ebert, At The Movies

Woody Allen makes beautiful music in a fitful comedy with this story of, "the second greatest guitar player in the world." Sean Penn plays Emmett Ray, an irresponsible, womanizing swing guitar player in Depression-era America who is guided by an ego almost as large as his talent. "I'm an artist, a truly great artist," he proclaims time and time again, and when he plays, soaring into a blissed-out world of pure melodic beauty, he proves it. Samantha Morton almost steals the film as his mute girlfriend Hattie, a sweet Chaplinesque waif who loves him unconditionally, and Uma Thurman brings haughty moxie to her role as a slumming socialite and aspiring writer who's forever analyzing Emmett's peculiarities (like taking his dates to shoot rats at the city dump). The vignette-like tales are interspersed with comments by jazz aficionados and critics, but this is less a Zelig-like mockumentary than an extension of the self-absorbed portraits of Deconstructing Harry and Celebrity. One of Allen's most gorgeous and colorful films, buoyed by toe-tapping music and Penn's gruffly charming performance.


In preparing for his role as the musically brilliant--and personally flawed--Emmet Ray in Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown, Sean Penn sought out one of America's greatest working jazz guitarists, Howard Alden, and meticulously practiced with maestro for an entire year. The authenticity Penn lends to the role can be largely attributed to his hours with Alden, and the actual soundtrack (including all of Penn's guitar solos) heavily features Alden.

Tonight, Howard Alden teams up with the legendary guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli (also a contributor on the Sweet and Lowdown soundtrack) for a conversation about the film's musical underpinnings, the experience of working with Woody Allen and Sean Penn, and the effect the film had on both of their already illustrious careers. Following this onstage dialogue, Alden and Pizzarelli will perform music from the film, as well as other original songs and newly interpreted jazz standards.

Born in Newport Beach, California, in 1958, Howard began playing at age ten, inspired by recordings of Armstrong, Basie and Goodman, as well as those by guitarists Barney Kessel, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt and George Van Eps. Upon moving to New York City in 1982, Alden's skills, both as soloist and accompanist, were quickly recognized and sought-out for appearances and recordings with such artists as Joe Bushkin, Ruby Braff, Joe Williams, Warren Vache` and Woody Herman.

He has continued to win accolades from critics and musicians alike, adding Benny Carter, Flip Phillips, Mel Powell, Bud Freeman, Kenny Davern, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie and George Van Eps, as well as notable contemporaries such as Scott Hamilton and Ken Peplowski to his list of impressive credits.

Howard Alden has been a Concord Jazz recording artist since the late '80s where, in 1991 Alden recorded with one of his all-time heroes, seven-string guitar master George Van Eps on the album "Thirteen Strings".

Bucky Pizzarelli's influential and scene-changing career has spanned more than six decades. Often referred to as, “the complete jazz musician,” he was a fixture in jazz and the studios since the early ‘50s. The list of big bands and vocalists with whom Bucky has performed and recorded reads like a veritable Who’s Who of Jazz. One of the era’s most solid rhythm players, Pizzarelli was in high demand, playing and touring with Benny Goodman, Zoot Sims, Bud Freeman, and Stephane Grappelli, and, later, recording with George Van Eps, Carl Kress and George Barnes.