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Tony Bennett Battling Alzheimer's (take 2)

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Although he was first diagnosed in 2016, I only learned today that Tony Bennett is suffering from Alzheimer's. According to the latest edition of AARP magazine, he endures “increasingly rarer moments of clarity and awareness.” “He's not the old Tony anymore,” his wife, Susan, told the magazine. “But when he sings, he's the old Tony.”

 

Very sad to say the least.

 

Associated press

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Here is the original AARP profile by John Colapinto that sensitively details the course of the disease and its impact of Tony's life -- what he can do and what he can't, what he remembers and what he doesn't. Highly recommend folks read these, not only for a window into Tony' life specifically but also more generally the realities of Alzheimer's.

 

.https://www.aarp.org/entertainment/celebrities/info-2021/tony-bennett-alzheimers.html

 

 

Edited by Mark Stryker

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I just rejoined AARP (gonna be getting a nifty 4-piece organizer as well as eligibility for Medicare supplements, supposedly the best?), maybe I'll get that issue.

Wishing him - and his support network -  all the best, and hope he's still painting as well as singing. Anything to hold on to a connection to the continuum.

It's a horrible disease, made all the worse by knowing that it only ends one way - when it does end, how ever long that takes.

You don't want to be a first-hand witness to what it does to it's victims...and as we get older and start to feel the mind drifting more than usual, there's always that "god, I hope it's not happening to me" feeling that you cannot shake, because you don't know until it does, if it does.

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All the best to Mr. Bennett and his family.  

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Haven’t read the articles yet, but I have seen various articles and reports over the years that the parts of the brain related to music (incl. singing) are somewhat distinct from those associated with both speech, and also memory.  Meaning not only are speech and singing distinct (controlled by different parts), but musical memory is distinct from other kinds of memory.

IIRC, this is sometimes evident in some Alzheimer’s patients, but also in some patients with very specific kinds of brain injuries otherwise.

Music therapy seems to be a very positive thing among those who had significant musical skills and/or experiences in their earlier decades. I would imagine Tony’s musical gifts will be at least in some evidence (and benefit to him) for his remaining years.

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24 minutes ago, JSngry said:

You don't want to be a first-hand witness to what it does to it's victims...

Worked in a retirement home when I was much younger and was around many dementia patients (not a doc, worked in food service). They were in various stages of that disease and when it's bad, it's tragic. Then my granddad came down with Alzheimer's around the turn of the century. It was terrible for everyone close to him. 

Best wishes to Mr Bennett and his family. I hope he gets the best care possible. 

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Back in 2016, Tony Bennett and his wife were at the Jazz Standard for a set of Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes. It was shortly after the release of his album with Bill Charlap. He seemed fine then. 

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That was more than 4 years ago. A lot can change. . . .

My best to Tony and his family. I cared for my Mom nearly full time during the last two years of her dementia.

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That's the scary part of it...most all of us start to slip a little in some cognitive functions as we age (the ones who don't are to be feared like gods!), but it's really hard to tell when normal slippage devolves into true Dementia/Alzheimer's. Just because you space out on shit sometimes doesn't mean that you're losing your shit. But it doesn't mean you're not. And if you're adopted, or otherwise have "uncertain" parental lineage, you have zero family history to reference. So you just don't know what to expect.

Laugh until you can't. And then, let other people laugh. They'll need it.

And fuck 'em if they can't take a joke. :g

 

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16 minutes ago, JSngry said:

That's the scary part of it...most all of us start to slip a little in some cognitive functions as we age (the ones who don't are to be feared like gods!), but it's really hard to tell when normal slippage devolves into true Dementia/Alzheimer's. Just because you space out on shit sometimes doesn't mean that you're losing your shit. But it doesn't mean you're not. And if you're adopted, or otherwise have "uncertain" parental lineage, you have zero family history to reference. So you just don't know what to expect.

Laugh until you can't. And then, let other people laugh. They'll need it.

And fuck 'em if they can't take a joke. :g

 

Seems like a good time to mention that I am more or less or convinced that I will at some point be found to have some form of early stage dementia or communication disorder of some kind. 

For a long time - I mean since my early 30s at least - I've struggled with "having the word on 'the tip of my tongue'".  (Not a good thing if you're working in radio ... better when doing VO with a script in front of you.)

Over the past several years I have noticed that I will speak in complete sentences while saying the wrong word in the middle of a string of words. Usually a word that starts with the same sound. Or my ability to recall simple words is degraded enough that I am referencing "the thing" rather than standing there without completing my thought.

I will also put words together in the wrong order. 

Last year I was forced to switch jobs in the insurance industry and for the first time in five years, had to communicate on the phone with clients. My ability to speak intelligibly was unmistakably degraded.

I will also write words in the wrong order, or write the wrong word.

Please do not tell me to seek medical attention. I am uninterested in being any sort of guinea pig for some new, inevitably worthless experimental drug that's not going to change things.

It is what it is. I'm 55 and hopefully I'll retain enough ability to communicate to work and earn a living for another 5-10 years.

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3 hours ago, Rooster_Ties said:

Haven’t read the articles yet, but I have seen various articles and reports over the years that the parts of the brain related to music (incl. singing) are somewhat distinct from those associated with both speech, and also memory.  Meaning not only are speech and singing distinct (controlled by different parts), but musical memory is distinct from other kinds of memory.

IIRC, this is sometimes evident in some Alzheimer’s patients, but also in some patients with very specific kinds of brain injuries otherwise.

Music therapy seems to be a very positive thing among those who had significant musical skills and/or experiences in their earlier decades. I would imagine Tony’s musical gifts will be at least in some evidence (and benefit to him) for his remaining years.

I found that out with my mother, who would hardly speak but would sing along when I played Sinatra's early hits (those she grew up with listening to the radio in the 40s).

 

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The AARP article is excellent, and I recommend that everyone read it. He is still singing, and the article talks about that and the role music can play with dementia. I watch Jeopardy every night partly to see how long it takes me to come with the "question." I've noticed it's taking a bit longer than it used to. Natural memory loss? Probably. But not certainly. There but for the grace.....

 

 

 

gregmo

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3 hours ago, Hardbopjazz said:

Back in 2016, Tony Bennett and his wife were at the Jazz Standard for a set of Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes. It was shortly after the release of his album with Bill Charlap. He seemed fine then. 

He was next to us (sans the wife) at Charlap show at the Village Vanguard around that time.  Maybe it was 2015?  Where you there? 

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3 hours ago, Dan Gould said:

Seems like a good time to mention that I am more or less or convinced that I will at some point be found to have some form of early stage dementia or communication disorder of some kind. 

For a long time - I mean since my early 30s at least - I've struggled with "having the word on 'the tip of my tongue'".  (Not a good thing if you're working in radio ... better when doing VO with a script in front of you.)

Over the past several years I have noticed that I will speak in complete sentences while saying the wrong word in the middle of a string of words. Usually a word that starts with the same sound. Or my ability to recall simple words is degraded enough that I am referencing "the thing" rather than standing there without completing my thought.

I will also put words together in the wrong order. 

Last year I was forced to switch jobs in the insurance industry and for the first time in five years, had to communicate on the phone with clients. My ability to speak intelligibly was unmistakably degraded.

I will also write words in the wrong order, or write the wrong word.

Please do not tell me to seek medical attention. I am uninterested in being any sort of guinea pig for some new, inevitably worthless experimental drug that's not going to change things.

It is what it is. I'm 55 and hopefully I'll retain enough ability to communicate to work and earn a living for another 5-10 years.

For what it's worth Dan, I have similar symptoms (though my public speaking it still there, which is good since that's basically my job!), and last week underwent an Dementia test, and fully passed. To say I'm relived is an understatement! My father had Dementia (the violent kind), my maternal uncle has it, and I'm very concerned about the present and future -- I'm 62. It can seem to us that we're losing it, but sometimes we're the worst judge of these things. Praying for the best for you.

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2 hours ago, Son-of-a-Weizen said:

He was next to us (sans the wife) at Charlap show at the Village Vanguard around that time.  Maybe it was 2015?  Where you there? 

No not that show. It was at the Jazz standard where I saw him. Also a few years earlier at the Blue Note at a dizzy Gillespie alumni band set.  

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1 hour ago, Matthew said:

For what it's worth Dan, I have similar symptoms (though my public speaking it still there, which is good since that's basically my job!), and last week underwent an Dementia test, and fully passed. To say I'm relived is an understatement! My father had Dementia (the violent kind), my maternal uncle has it, and I'm very concerned about the present and future -- I'm 62. It can seem to us that we're losing it, but sometimes we're the worst judge of these things. Praying for the best for you.

Thank you Matthew. I am glad you feel better after your test ... it's hard to agree though that we're the worst judge. Our wives or friends hear or watch only some of our mistakes or failures whereas we are aware of every single time our sentences trail off or we say something nonsensical. 

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Oh crap, saying something nonsensical is something to worry about?

NOW you tell me...

But seriously, I look at it like some of this stuff has always been with me and is just accelerating a bit with age. THAT's ok. It's the stuff that seems like relatively "new" behavior that has me wondering have I always done this and am just now noticing it, or, uh-oh, better keep an eye on this, and get Brenda to do the same. Because, you know, she's used to damn near all of it by now, god bless her, so I ask her to stay in the game with me, at least as much as possible...but she's not a kid any more either...what scares me is thinking that we reach the point more or less together where neither one of us can take care of the other one but think that we can. What could possibly go wrong, right?

BRIGHT MOMENTS, Y'ALL!!!!

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Alzheimer's is probably largely a genetic condition...I still wonder if mountains of magic dust he snorted had anything to do with his diagnosis. 

2.5 years ago I was at his concert in Providence. He performed with a local group of sidemen that often backs him. It was a thoroughly enjoyable concert, he still had surprisingly  reliable chops, and remembered the lyrics. He did sang one tune twice, and that's ok. His daughter, on the other hand, is certainly not a god's gift to singing, she opened up for him. Nature rests on the children of the greats...
The only album of his that I will save forever, is the first Bill Evans collaboration, on Fantasy. I'm sorry to say, I have not heard the follow-up. Some Other Time speaks to me, makes me cry inside.

 

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1 hour ago, Dmitry said:

Alzheimer's is probably largely a genetic condition...I still wonder if mountains of magic dust he snorted had anything to do with his diagnosis. 

2.5 years ago I was at his concert in Providence. He performed with a local group of sidemen that often backs him. It was a thoroughly enjoyable concert, he still had surprisingly  reliable chops, and remembered the lyrics. He did sang one tune twice, and that's ok. His daughter, on the other hand, is certainly not a god's gift to singing, she opened up for him. Nature rests on the children of the greats...
The only album of his that I will save forever, is the first Bill Evans collaboration, on Fantasy. I'm sorry to say, I have not heard the follow-up. Some Other Time speaks to me, makes me cry inside.

 

I always loved Astoria - Portrait of the Artist, thought it was a high quality album.

TONY BENNETT Astoria Portrait Of The Artist UK ORIGINAL CBS 466005 1 VINYL  LP NM | eBay

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Thank you Mr. Bennett for all the great music these past 70 years - keeping you in my thoughts.

Thank you to the board member who posted a nice picture of Mr. Bennett this past spring in Central Park observing COVID protocol - As always, Mr. Bennett looked great. 

Proposing that the Golden Gate Bridge bear his name and be renamed the Golden Gate- Bennett Bridge.

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I have a lot of respect for Bennett, and am sad to hear all this. I don't understand however, why he chose to collaborate with Lady Gaga, whose is really not much of a jazz singer, IMO. But it does not change his legacy. It just feels to me like he was taken advantage of. 

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55 minutes ago, hopkins said:

I have a lot of respect for Bennett, and am sad to hear all this. I don't understand however, why he chose to collaborate with Lady Gaga, whose is really not much of a jazz singer, IMO. But it does not change his legacy. It just feels to me like he was taken advantage of. 

It's $how BU$INE$$. I don't doubt that he couldn't give a shit about Queen Latifah, Faith Hill or John Mayer. At least he was probably in the studio with those people when they recorded, unlike Sinatra and someone called Bono.
I haven't listened to the 100 LP albums he's recorded, nor do I intend to. I'm sure there's some great stuff there. To me, personally, his 'tear your heart out on every tune, no matter how shitty it is' style got pretty redundant. He's one of those people that the media defined as a 'very nice guy'. Remember, both him and Miles did a lot of drugs; everyone talks about how Miles used and abused, no one says that about good ol' Tony.

 

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Lady Gaga is not without at least some skills as a singer.

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I think Queen Latifah is pretty talented. Heard her singing with a big band on record not too long ago and she was good. 

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52 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Lady Gaga is not without at least some skills as a singer.

wholeheartedly agree. I work for Robert Wilson, the theater director and visual artist, and he has collaborated with Gaga. Hence I have a soft spot for her. She seems like a genuine person.

Sad news about Bennett. Alzheimer's is bad stuff.

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