On Guaraldi, On The Radio

Tomorrow morning, November 28, I will be with Scott Simon, host of National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Saturday to discuss Vince Guaraldi. I had the privilege of writing the essay accompanying the new two-CD compilation ofVince Guaraldi.jpg Guaraldi recordings. Celebrated for his Charlie Brown Christmas music, Guaraldi is the focus of a Weekend Edition feature. Mr. Simon and I will discuss the pianist’s career from his early years as a sideman to his fame as the musical alter-ego of cartoonist Charles Schultz’s Peanuts characters. Show producer Ned Wharton tells me that the piece is scheduled for about 9:45 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. To find your nearest NPR station, go here. Later note: You can go here to read about and listen to the conversationl.

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  1. Steve Caminis says

    Fortunately, I listen to Scott Simon most every Saturday morning so I got to hear the great tribute to Vince Guaraldi. It was terrific and nice to hear you on the air (again).
    I guess this shows that I should be checking Rifftides regularly as well.

  2. Mark Petry says

    Great job Doug, really fine tribute to Guaraldi and the 60s San Francisco jazz scene. I found myself thinking that Lee Mendelson had probably heard “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” on Don Sherwood’s radio show, KSFO 560.

  3. says

    I saw this post and thought I’d surely miss this because we’re on the road visiting family. Then I got in the car this morning for an unexpected errand just as Scott Simon was introducing you. So the jazz gods were smiling!
    Nice work, man. I love Vince’s music and was glad they picked someone knowledgeable to talk about him.

  4. says

    Fine work, Signore. Like many others in the early Sixties, I was a college kid hooked on foreign films, so when Black Orpheus showed up at the record shop in a jazz version, I had to check it out. Fell for that funky staccato style of Guaraldi’s, not to mention his melodies, loved “Cast Your Fate,” wound up playing Side Two Vince much more than the Brazilian stuff. Never did pay much heed to the Peanuts years, but now, today, I realize again how much I’ve missed hearing his Bobby Timmons-similar sound. So grazie for the rewind. (But be on the lookout for that Black… Hand.)

  5. Jack Berry says

    Nice spot. If Vince had killed Corey, who would have accepted Tom Pynchon’s Pulitzer Prize? In the early years of Monterey, Vince had all the famous keyboards stunned with admiration. He regularly played three miles over his usual elevation.

  6. Phil Wood says

    When I was at San Jose State, during summers in the late 1950s, it was
    hip to go to Lake Tahoe and do what college kids do: drink and chase
    girls. In those days, lounge acts would actually play from a tiny stage
    immediately behind a bar. The Vince Guaraldi Trio occupied such a place
    at a casino called Harvey’s Wagon Wheel at South Shore. I knew Vince
    had played with Tjader, of course, but this was the first I’d seen of
    him as the leader of his own trio – and way before the whole Charlie
    Brown thing. Although his music was always mellow, it always did swing.
    I usually hung out at the bar until I was either too drunk or ran out
    of money. Ah, memories.

  7. says

    I never tire of his playing (and his side with Frank Rosolino* is one of my favorite West Coast records).
    I was talking to Colin Bailey a couple of years ago for a WSJ piece on Guaraldi and he told me a funny story. They toured when “Cast Your Fate” was a hit, and every night they would open with Monty Budwig on bass and Colin on drums on stage alone, playing that great version of “Samba De Orpheus.” As Colin would hit the tag and repeat it at the end of the form, Guaraldi would stroll onstage, sit down and — bam! — they would hit the hard charging change of key and groove, with Guaraldi swinging the melody. Then one night they were in Washington DC, playing at the Carter Baron Ampitheater, which has a stage wide enough for opera (I’ve done a battle of the big bands there, and had plenty of room to set up two big bands side-by-side). The did their opening shtick as usual, and when Monty hit the tag, Guaraldi strolls from the wings, then he realizes he has to pick up the pace, because the piano is ten yards away. Soon he’s running across the stage diving for the keyboard to hit his cue…I would have liked to see that!
    *(Frank Rosolino Quintet on the Mode label (1957), with Guaraldi, Richie Kamuca, Budwig and Stan Levey: http://www.amazon.com/Frank-Rosolino-Quintet/dp/B000003BB1 — DR)

  8. John Raczka says

    This is the first time I have ever read a blog. I’m glad I chose yours. I came this way because of your interview about Vince Guaraldi. I’ve always admired him ever since “Cast Your Fate To The Wind.”
    I’m a professional musician. Have written for and played with Pete Christlieb and many of the L.A. guys. I started working with “Les Brown and the Band of Renown” in 1980. I am now the music director for the band. I write, play piano and sing with the band. We just finished up our third CD with Les Jr.’s record company. I did all of the charts (orchestral and big band). I taught jazz studies for several years in the Pacific Northwest. (Humboldt State in Arcata Ca.)
    I was hanging on every word of the NPR interview. Really enjoyed the insight to Vince G. I never got to meet him but I loved his style of playing. Very creative and unpredictable.

  9. Joel Froeschle says

    I listen to a lot of Public Radio and I heard your piece on Vince Guaraldi the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It brought back many wonderful memories.
    I was living in Oakland in 1973 and had my portrait painted by a street artist in San Francisco by the name of Michael O’Shaughnessy. (great artist, by the way) He invited me to the home where he lived for a concert and party on a Sunday afternoon.
    The home was a large house on the beach South of San Francisco inhabited by large group of hippies, artists, etc. They were all renting and one of them even said to me, ‘Man, we’re on our ass here. We’re just trying to pay the rent.’ I believe there was either a modest door charge or they just passed the hat.
    I don’t remember who the performers were but it caused quite a stir when they introduced Vince, who was then quite well known for ‘Cast Your Fate to the Wind’. I assume he was a friend of someone in the house. His playing was great and I’m sure he played ‘Cast Your Fate…’ either twice or at least one long, powerful rendition. It was fantastic!
    The only other thing I remember about him was seeing an album cover with him wearing a pair of glasses with a shattered lens, similar to the Alex Rocco scene in the ‘Godfather.’ I was surprised when you mentioned that he died only a few years later. I was sorry to hear that.