Chris Q. Murphy's Reviews > Treat It Gentle

Treat It Gentle by Sidney Bechet
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's review
Aug 27, 2007

really liked it
Recommended for: those unfamiliar with bechet's orthodox views on jazz.
Read in March, 2007

it's easy to fall under bechet's spell on this one. unless read side-by-side with other biographical material, one may believe that this jazz trailblazer is the good-natured, though sometimes sweetly curmudgeonly, patriarch he paints himself to be. and therein lies the genius of this book.

his editors and this soprano saxophone pioneer appeared to have one goal in mind: to save jazz (as they knew it) from the scourge of then-contemporary arbiters of africanist improvised music. and so they set out with this then septuagenarian jazz man to recount his life and myriad experiences with musicians and musicianers (an important distinction in this text), all in a rather preachy tone about the "right" way to play jazz.

this is a perplexing and crafty autobiography (especially the frequently-referenced opening chapter about bechet's symbolic? grandfather, the slave/musician "Omar"), so long as it is read with full knowledge of bechet's life as a gun-toting, womanizing, british deport, who rather than "save" jazz on the soil from which he so firmly believed it was born from, instead expatriated to france, where they would play anything he asked them to.

well done, sid. you almost had me fooled.

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