Softly With Feeling: Joe Wilder and the Breaking of Barriers in American Music

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Author: Vincent Pelote
Date: Spring 2015
From: ARSC Journal(Vol. 46, Issue 1)
Publisher: Association for Recorded Sound Collections
Document Type: Book review
Length: 792 words
Lexile Measure: 1430L

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Softly With Feeling: Joe Wilder and the Breaking of Barriers in American Music. By Edward Berger. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2014. 378pp, numerous b & w photographs, discography/solography, index, ISBN 978-1-4399-1127-3, $25.37.

Softly, With Feeling is first and foremost a very well researched and clearly written biography of a jazz trumpet icon who also distinguished himself in the classical idiom. It is also a book about race in America in the 1930s and the decades that followed, and offers insight into the music business, especially pertaining to the role of African Americans.

Edward Berger, whose previous works include biographies of Benny Carter, Teddy Reig, and George Duvivier, does his usual thorough job of penetrating his subjects through interviews and extensive archival research to produce another excellent work on an important figure in American music. In Softly, With Feeling, Mr. Berger relates Wilder's story starting with his upbringing in a working class, interracial neighborhood in Philadelphia. As has historically been the case, children have always been more racially tolerant of their peers than adults. For instance, Wilder talked about getting along with his white playmates as a child even befriending a white girl, Helen Gibbons. Even in that world,...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A462787836