Brute

Treat it Gentle

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I have been on a big Bechet kick lately and I picked up his "autobiography" from the library yesterday. It's an interesting read for sure but the funny part is, I was this first person to check it out since 1964! :rofl:

I am actually surprised that they still had a copy on the shelf for that long, especially since no one seems to be reading it. Anyone here read it? The first 50 pages have been pretty slow, please tell me it gets better!

Edited by Brute

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Wow, 44 views and no replies. Umm, OK. Thanks for making me feel welcome. If anyone needs me I'll be lurking around trying to figure out how to delete this embarassing shit. :w

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OK, Brute, it gets better. A great book, in fact, though it depends on what you're looking for. Only question -- and to my knowledge it's never been resolved -- is how much of it Bechet himself wrote. His editor was poet John Ciardi, and one has heard that Ciardi did a whole lot of work on it.

Here's something I wrote about one aspect of the book:

It is common for those who can recall their own earliest encounters with jazz to describe what took place then as an act of recognition--or as Bechet rather dramatically put it in his autobiography Treat It Gentle, “[T]hat’s what the music is…a lost thing finding itself.” In Bechet’s account, the advent of jazz is firmly linked to the aftermath of Emancipation: “All those people who had been slaves, they needed the music more than ever now; it was like they were trying to find out in this music what they were supposed to do with this freedom; playing the music and listening to it--waiting for it to express what they needed to learn….” The “lost thing” is said to be “like a man with no place of his own…a stranger right in the place where he was born” who eventually “finds a place, his place”--having been schooled to do so by the music’s journey “all the way up from what it had been in the beginning to the place where it could be itself.”

If those remarks have an air of fable to them, they are at the very least a fable that one of jazz’s primal creators chose to entertain. Nor does it seem accidental that one of the music’s key mysteries is touched upon here with such precision. “[P]laying the music and listening to it,” Bechet says, “[the people were] waiting for it to express what they needed to learn.” Where, then, does the tutelage and the consciousness that underlies it reside? In a separate class of courageously individualistic, expressive artists? (Bechet describes his perhaps semi-mythical grandfather Omar in such terms, and he himself would seem to fit the model. ) Yet it is both listeners and players who “needed to learn” and who were, over time, taught. So is the music itself a third place or force? And is it there, or through its agency, that tutelage occurs?

For the answer to those last questions, see "Jazz in Search of Itself" (Yale University Press), p. 6.

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No need to be embarassed. . . I guess many of us have not read that. I haven't. . . probably should read it one day. Hopefully it has picked up after the first slow pages. . . .

(I recently put a book down 2/3 read because I just couldn't hang with the writing so I know what you mean!)

Does the book seem "accurate?"

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Actually, I still haven't gotten to it, but I put it on my book list after reading Larry's book because of its references therein.

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I read it and enjoyed reading it. I had read somewhere that John Ciardi may have had a lot to do with the book. If that's so, my question would be why is the last quarter of the book the least enjoyable (at least it was for me)? Where was Mr Ciardi then? Supposedly Sidney Bechet passed before the last part of Treat it Gentle could be completed. I'm willing to give Mr. Bechet the benefit of the doubt. He was a musical artist. He might have been an artist with words also.

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Wow, 44 views and no replies. Umm, OK. Thanks for making me feel welcome. If anyone needs me I'll be lurking around trying to figure out how to delete this embarassing shit. :w

You have to be patient around here. Things tend to happen in their own time. :)

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Larry, Paul and anyone else who wants to comment--what do you think of John Chilton's biography of Sidney Bechet?

Purely as an entertaining read, I liked it. I learned that Bechet's lovers included both Tallulah Bankhead and Josephine Baker, and that he used his soprano sax in a seduction ritual when he was interested in a woman in the audience.

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Larry, Paul and anyone else who wants to comment--what do you think of John Chilton's biography of Sidney Bechet?

Purely as an entertaining read, I liked it. I learned that Bechet's lovers included both Tallulah Bankhead and Josephine Baker, and that he used his soprano sax in a seduction ritual when he was interested in a woman in the audience.

Never read that one. Sure sounds entertaining.

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Larry, Paul and anyone else who wants to comment--what do you think of John Chilton's biography of Sidney Bechet?

Purely as an entertaining read, I liked it. I learned that Bechet's lovers included both Tallulah Bankhead and Josephine Baker, and that he used his soprano sax in a seduction ritual when he was interested in a woman in the audience.

Never read that one. Sure sounds entertaining.

I hasten to add that most of it consists of non-sensational standard biographical information. One recurring item in the book is that Bechet thought that he was superior to Louis Armstrong as a musician and felt some resentment toward Louis for his fame and glory.

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Read this a long time ago, enjoyed it as I recall. The writing certainly seems "of a piece" with his sweepingly grand playing FWIW. Bechet is every bit as great a player as Armstrong, but he didn't record as a leader til '32 or at all between '25 & '32 (right?), so he had no one to blame for A's greater fame but himself. If he'd been killed in say '31, he'd be as obscure a figure as Freddie Keppard, better player but... Sometimes Marsalis's grand pronouncements remind me of Bechet, but coming out of Wynton's mouth they just sound ridiculous...

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Wow, 44 views and no replies. Umm, OK. Thanks for making me feel welcome. If anyone needs me I'll be lurking around trying to figure out how to delete this embarassing shit. :w

I haven't read the book, so couldn't answer your question. Looked at the post to see if you were giving an opinion on the book. Calm down.,

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Treat it Gentle is one of my favorites.

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This book has a lot of interesting first-hand reminisces by Bechet protegé Bob Wilber. It also happens to be a worthwhile read.

BobWilbersautobiography.jpg

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I get "the willies" every time I see Wilber's name, or hear his playing. A book is out of the question for me.

YMMV.

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That's my reaction. Can't explain it beyond saying my introduction was via his playing and it repels me.

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I know he's a charming fellow, just not my cuppa tea.

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I never saw Bob as a Nessa repellant.

Maybe you could bottle it and make a fortune! :excited:

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That's my reaction. Can't explain it beyond saying my introduction was via his playing and it repels me.

I feel the same way about both Wilber and Kenny Davern. There's a certain packaged complacency about the way they use the pieces of the jazz past that attract them. That they're more "professional" players than a lot of revivalists somehow makes it more annoying.

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I asked Bob Wilber about Treat It Gentle. He told me that, basically, the first part of the book is in good measure Bechet's fantasy, the second part is someone else's.

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That's my reaction. Can't explain it beyond saying my introduction was via his playing and it repels me.

I feel the same way about both Wilber and Kenny Davern. There's a certain packaged complacency about the way they use the pieces of the jazz past that attract them. That they're more "professional" players than a lot of revivalists somehow makes it more annoying.

Couldn't disagree more, Larry. I find both Kenny Davern and Bob Wilber really wonderful players. Davern in his peeweerussellesque oddity and Wilber as a very complete musician. If I should pick one of them, I'd go for Davern, though.

What are your thoughts on Ken Peplowski?

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As for John Chilton's Bechet biography, I still haven't read it, but his biographies of Coleman Hawkins, Henry Red Allen, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday are among my favorite jazz books, for sure!

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