Sweet and Lowdown a Sony Pictures Classics release a Woody Allen film
Sweet and Lowdown: A Jazz History Perspective (cont'd)

In Paris, Reinhardt and violinist Stephan Grappelli founded the Quintet of the Hot Club of France in 1934. Bringing his romantic, bittersweet gypsy ethos to the American jazz with which he had fallen in love, Django created an original sound and style.

Sean Penn as Emmet Ray The first piece of music heard in Sweet and Lowdown is Django Reinhardt’s "When Day Is Done" from 1937. As he has exhibited in his choice of music for many of his films, Woody Allen’s passion for jazz radiates stylistically out from the New Orleans-inspired clarinet style that is perhaps closest to his heart. We have previously heard Louis Armstrong, Ben Webster and Erroll Garner, to name just a few, on his soundtracks. This time, with Allen’s long-time musical director Dick Hyman at the helm (and sometimes the piano), he uses a rich mixture of recordings from the period as well as newly-created renditions by guitarists Howard Alden and Bucky Pizzarelli. Their infectious style may be heard on "Limehouse Blues," "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "I’ll See You In My Dreams." Alden also plays Django’s "Mystery Pacific."

Reinhardt himself is heard in the original recordings of "Avalon" and "Liebestraum." Violinist Joe Venuti and guitarist Eddie Lang are represented by "After You’ve Gone" and there are selections by Ted Lewis, Sidney Bechet, Red Nichols, Bix Beiderbecke, Bunny Berigan, Henry Busse and the British band leader Ambrose.

Throughout it all, the music adds to the film’s humor and pathos. In perhaps one of the film’s most touching moments, Emmet Ray (Alden) plays an unaccompanied "I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles" while wooing the mute Hattie. In the end, the movie is permeated not only by music, but by the spirit of jazz.

Ira Gitler is the co-author, along with
Leonard Feather, of The Biographical
Encyclopedia of Jazz (Oxford Press)

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