This link will take you to YouTube for the music trailer to Keep THIS Quiet Too! – composed by Jan Mensaert for the piano.
After great insistence, in the early 1970s, he made me a music reel with this and other music – playing it himself. I no longer remember whether he recorded it in his home in Belgium or his adopted home in Morocco, where he lived many years. And during part of that time even had a piano that had been hoisted into his apartment in Larache. I was extremely impressed by all the facets of art he plunged into and surrounded himself by, though he was professionally a poet. The Trailer shows him playing one of his music tunes – he loved melody – with a honky tonk beat that he called “Pretty Margaret.” Jan is in the trio of men – along with Hunter Thompson and Milton Klonsky – you can read about in Keep This Quiet! and Keep THIS Quiet Too! Like Hunter but faraway in Morocco, he lived “on the edge.”
MORE ABOUT HOW THE REEL CAME TO BE ON CD
Years later still, when moving to Switzerland and then Belgium, I left the reel, the sole copy of this music, in my storage in North Carolina.
It was fifteen years more before I went to search for it in 2000, hoping to use it in the “Retrospective on the Life and Work of Jan Mensaert” by the Belgian museum Het Toreke. By then the storage room was dilapidated. Papers had been eaten by insects, even though the room was supposed to be well kept. I had no idea where the old reel was. I was only in the US briefly. I had gotten a ride to Greenville, NC, to the unit and searched it for an hour to no avail. Giving it one last attempt, I turned toward the door, placing my hand in a cabinet, and there it was!
The next step was just as hard. Was the reel still viable? The man in charge of music for the exhibit – because Jan had left 1,000 or more sheets of music in his attic in Belgium, music of all sorts (from sonatas to orchestral works) he’d written while young and hoping to be a composer – was Bruce Wands, Chair MFA Computer Art Department, director of computer education, School of Visual Arts; artist; writer; musician; producer, director. If anyone could rescue the lost music from the old reel, he was a good bet.
It was another fluke that he was even in the project. I had brought him in, having first contacted him to work on a theater festival in Romania. I had asked around New York City for someone with art background who might help out Romanians, and he was the only person suggested. That left me a foot in the door to ask if he’d work on this project – this time for pay. He said yes. We listened expectantly as the old reel began to turn. Would music come out, or was it hopelessly damaged like some of Jan’s photography slides, though even those had been cleaned in a Belgian lab and you can see some of them on the Trailer.
When the first sounds started, we were amazed they had survived. But Bruce wondered aloud if the speed was too fast. Did he really play that fast? Yes, I said. Some of the time.
I hope you enjoy this. I had always – way before the technology age – assumed this is the way art survives. Someone discovers it long after the death of the composer or writer or painter and brings it out to the public. Those days are gone, I suppose. But here is a relic of the past, when music and writings and a painting here and there were found in old libraries or collections or attics – surviving by discovery in the nick of time.
The black-and-white Modigliani-like female above is also by Jan. But it was in bold colors of orange and green. The original is at Het Toreke.