Thursday, May 21, 2015

Golden memories of Grace

50 years ago today, Vince Guaraldi and his trio — bassist Tom Beeson, and drummer Lee Charlton — made history when they debuted America's first worship service jazz Mass at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral.


Nor was Guaraldi a mere performer; he also wrote the jazz portions of the Mass, weaving fresh themes around the chanted "Plain Song" setting of the Eucharist's Missa Marialis. This wasn't merely typical jazz improvisation; all involved with this ground-breaking project took the precaution of adapting the Fourth Communion Service setting as a means of blunting criticism from conservatives who worried about bringing "saloon music" — the Devil's music — from the cocktail lounge into the church.

Such fears notwithstanding — and more than a few nasty, even threatening letters were received, prior to May 21, 1965 — Guaraldi's completed Jazz Mass was a resounding success in every possible way.

Which goes to show that God clearly is a jazz fan.

Guaraldi's involvement with the Mass had begun roughly 18 months earlier, when he was approached by a young Reverend named Charles Gompertz. The latter had been charged by his "boss" — the Right Reverend James A. Pike, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California — to come up with a musical event that would suitably honor the then-under-construction Grace Cathedral during its inaugural "Year of Grace" celebrations. This was a very big deal, as Grace was soon to become the first major Anglican cathedral consecrated in the United States.

Gompertz had been drawn to Guaraldi the same way television director/producer Lee Mendelson had decided to select the jazz pianist for what eventually became the wildly successful Peanuts animated franchise: after hearing "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" on the radio. Gompertz and Guaraldi met at the Trident, the former outlining the project and all of its necessary parameters. None of this gave Guaraldi the slightest pause, who quite famously commented — as Gompertz vividly recalls, to this day — "Bach, Brahms and Beethoven all wrote masses ... so why not me?"

The next year and a half was to be quite busy, with Guaraldi rehearsing at least once each week with Barret (Barry) Mineah and his choir at St. Paul's Church in nearby San Rafael. When the big day finally came, the cathedral was filled to overflowing, people known to have driven from as far away as San Luis Obispo. The sermon was delivered by the quite radical Malcolm Boyd, the "coffeehouse priest" who — among his many other Civil Rights activities — had been one of 28 Episcopal priests present during 1961's Freedom Ride from New Orleans.

When it was all over — when Pike, Gompertz, Guaraldi and numerous other clergy members joined an impromptu reception in the vesting area — they began to realize, in Gompertz's words, that they had "done something bigger than all of us."

Indeed.

The resulting media explosion was huge, even by today's standards; Grace, Gompertz and Guaraldi remained in the news throughout the subsequent summer. The companion Fantasy LP was preceded by a 45 single, which undoubtedly raised eyebrows from casual listeners who never expected to hear "Adore Devote (Humbly I Adore Thee" or Guaraldi's "Theme to Grace" on pop and jazz radio stations. The Grace Cathedral staff, at best reluctant during the ramp-up to May 21, couldn't move quickly enough to take advantage of this unexpected success; Duke Ellington was hired to perform in the cathedral on Sept. 16.

Within just a few years, churches became quite popular settings for jazz celebrations, and of course we don't think twice about such things today.

This Golden Jubilee anniversary of Guaraldi's Jazz Mass hasn't gone unnoticed; I'm already reporting on the work being done by Bill Carter, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. He and his jazz combo and church choir will deliver an anniversary presentation of Guaraldi's Mass on September 6, as faithful readers of this blog already know.

What you don't know is that another endeavor has just been announced, here on the West Coast.

Northern California-based jazz pianist Jim Martinez is no stranger to Guaraldi's music; by total coincidence, he has a new album of Guaraldi covers and Guaraldi-esque originals coming out in just a few weeks (which I'll discuss at greater length in a future post, when the CD is available for purchase). Meanwhile, Martinez has just gone public with his own plan for a Guaraldi Jazz Mass tribute event.

This will be a concert, not a formal Mass. Thus far, Jim anticipates an opening jazz set by his combo, followed by a short intermission and then a lengthy second half featuring his home-base Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church Choir, with the combo, in a program of themes from Guaraldi's Jazz Mass. The performance also will include some Gospel choir songs and major anthem pieces.

Best of all, as you'll see from the announcement here, this event will take place at no less than Grace Cathedral itself.


And, as an added bonus, the Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church Choir will be joined by a number of folks — now adults — who, as children, were members of the St. Paul Church choir that sang in Grace Cathedral 50 years ago today.

How's that for big news?

Jim and Bill Carter are collaborating on the heavy lifting: the necessary transcription of Guaraldi's music from the Jazz Mass, none of which ever was written down. They're doing it the hard way, by listening to the Fantasy LP and a few other snippets of unreleased recordings. (The original Grace Cathedral Mass ran much, much longer than what we hear on the Fantasy LP; the full majesty of Guaraldi's "Holy Communion Blues" is known to have lasted more than half an hour ... because a lot of people received Communion that evening. Sadly, that full recording is believed lost.)

Additional details will follow, so watch this spot.

It's gonna be a busy summer!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Lighthouse memories

Jazz historian Steven A. Cerra began a correspondence with me last summer, while conducting background research for what eventually emerged as an extremely complimentary review of my book about Guaraldi, which Steve published on his blog in late August.

During the course of our e-mails and phone calls, however, it became obvious that I had to return the favor. The result, obtained during a lengthy interview, is one of the most vivid anecdotes of the late 1950s and early ’60s Southern California jazz scene — with an essential Guaraldi element — that it has been my privilege to hear.

(Sadly, although this narrative includes some wonderful vintage photos that Steve shot back in the day, he didn't get any of Guaraldi.)

What follows comes almost verbatim from Steve, with very little editing or “prep” on my part. His memory is sharp, and his youthful adventures clearly left an indelible impression.

******

As a teenager growing up in Southern California, Steve was in the right place, and at the right time, to indulge his passion for jazz via regular visits to Hermosa Beach’s iconic Lighthouse, home of the Lighthouse All-Stars.

Nor was Steve an average patron. Although still a high school student during the late 1950s, he already was a well-established drummer in the local jazz scene.

“I had been working clubs for at least a year,” he recalls. “But the club owners and managers knew how old I was, so, during the breaks, they’d force me to leave. I’d have to go outside, often in a back alley, for a smoke. My playing might have been mature enough for the environment, but age-wise, they didn’t want the cops busting the place because of an underage kid lingering at the bar.”

Steve Cerra, dimly visible beneath the Lighthouse marquee, poses just outside his
favorite hangout, probably in the early summer of 1959 (based on the names showcased).
Steve believes he started hanging around The Lighthouse in 1959, drawn both by the nearby beach and the venue’s celebrated All-Stars.

“The Sunday afternoon jam sessions ran from 2 or 2:30 in the afternoon, to 2 a.m. the next morning. It was chicks and beer and jazz, and I was going on 17.

“What was not to love?”

Although able to hold his own on a stage, Steve nonetheless was aware of his limitations.

“I’d been self-taught up until then. When that’s the case, even when you have a feeling for the music, you hit certain walls and limitations. When you sit down with people who are legitimately trained, you can’t help noticing their speed and power. I had the feeling, but I didn’t have any technique to broaden it, and give it depth.”

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Stanford unlocks its vaults

If the relevant Facebook post can be taken as gospel, as of last September 2, Stanford University made the entire contents of its campus newspaper available online: every issue of The Stanford Daily, from 1892 onward. That's ... quite impressive.


It also represents a fresh windfall for researchers seeking Northern California-based information, as I recently discovered. One of my many Guaraldi-themed investigations happened to pull up a page from the Daily last week, which raised eyebrows and quickly led to the archive home page. A search on the term "Guaraldi" gives 78 results, a good many of which yielded fresh information and/or served as supplementary sources for already established details (always a good thing). A 79th hit pops up when searching for the incorrectly spelled "Guraldi," which once again proves that one must remember to explore alternate spellings of desired terms.

As with all well-designed archives, the results include both articles and advertisements that include Guaraldi's name; the latter are always fun to see, and I snagged several to enhance the visuals on my extensive Guaraldi timeline.

June Cochran, back in the day
As a result of one such ad, I now know that the Guaraldi Trio's appearance at Grodin's Music Festival — on September 29, 1963 — found Dr. Funk sharing the stage not only with Dave Brubeck, The Four Freshmen and The Brothers Four, but also Carol Brent, Georgie & Teddy, and "Top Rock Stars" ... along with "7 Playboy Playmates, including June Cochran, Playboy Playmate of the Years."

Goodness, what an afternoon that must have been!

A few years further along — on April 23, 1965 — a mischievous music brief mentions that Guaraldi and Bola Sete are at El Matador, and that "As an extra added attraction, bullfight movies will be shown on Sunday night, to jazz accompaniment, no doubt."

The first substantial treat appears May 9, 1966: a review of the previous evening's benefit concert at Stanford's Frost Memorial Amphitheater, which featured headliner Glenn Yarbrough, with an opener by Guaraldi's combo. Despite that billing, staffer Aaron Ross' (somewhat harsh) critique actually devotes more space to Guaraldi, beginning with the first paragraph and continuing onward:

Cool, relaxed, easygoing, that's the mood set by Vince Guaraldi at the Sunday concert for the Convalescent Home. Vince first gained recognition in 1960 with his album "Black Orpheus," taking the sound track from that movie and setting it to jazz.

I'm sorry to say, Vince's music hasn't changed much from those days; he still uses many of the same compositional formulas today. His solos are sometimes interesting, but on the whole are filled with standard clichés.

I don't mean to say that he's a prostitute, just that he's safe. He sticks to the security blanket that brought him fame and fortune. This is sad, because he's a very talented and capable musician. Someday, I hope he shows it.

Vince, for the past few years, has featured a guitarist. The first was Bola Sete, who was such a success, he took off on his own. More recently, he's been featuring George Morel, a semi-classical guitarist from Buenos Aires, Argentina, a very fine technician who has brought a refreshing change of pace.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A little of this, a little of that ... Take 3

Referencing Kathy Sloane's Keystone Korner: Portrait of a Jazz Club — in my recent post about drummer Carl Burnett — prompted a more thorough search of the book, which revealed an intriguing nugget. The book's preface is written by author, essayist and California Poet Laureate Al Young, who grew up in Detroit but moved to the greater San Francisco area in 1961, in order to attend UC Berkeley. He held a number of odd jobs on the side during the next few years, including a stint as a DJ at San Francisco's KJAZ.

Young's preface to Sloane's book is a poetic overview of the entire San Francisco music scene, broken down by memory, region and venue. It includes this paragraph:

Across the Golden Gate Bridge in exotic Sausalito, pianist Vince Guaraldi — now famous for the scores he composed for the Peanuts TV specials in general, and for the songs "Lucy and Linus" [sic] and "Christmas Time Is Here" in particular — used to broadcast live from the Trident. We carried his Saturday night show over KJAZ. Just then, in 1962, Guaraldi was pushing "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," a number that would become his first international signature hit, and find its way onto his big-selling Fantasy album: Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus.

Fascinating, eh? Chances of any of those broadcasts having been recorded, and surviving to this day, are slim and none ... but boy, what a tantalizing thought!


********

Further on the subject of books, chasing an obscure detail led to Don Alberts' 2009 release, A Diary of the Underdogs. Alberts is a veteran jazz pianist and San Francisco native, having shared stages with the likes of Chet Baker, Shorty Rogers and Bud Shank, not to mention serving time as house pianist at Jimbo's Bop City: as demanding a job, in terms of requiring skilled jazz chops, as could be imagined. Alberts also fancies himself a writer, having penned short stories and a novel set within San Francisco's jazz world, along with collections of poetry and this sorta-kinda memoir/oral history of his home town's 1960s jazz scene.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A drummer's reflections

During a career that caught fire in the 1960s and continues to this day, drummer Carl Burnett has worked with a Who's Who of jazz artists: from Eddie Harris and Sarah Vaughn to Marvin Gaye and O.C. Smith, from Art Pepper and Freddie Hubbard to Horace Silver and Kenny Burrell. These days, Burnett frequently performs and records with bassist and longtime friend Stanley Gilbert; the two met back in the 1960s, when both were members of Cal Tjader's Quintet.


Which led both Burnett and Gilbert, in turn, to a brief association with Guaraldi.

I caught up with Burnett thanks to my colleague Duncan Reid, who authored our shared publisher's recent biography of Tjader. Just as I continue to gather anecdotes and information about Guaraldi's life and career, Duncan does the same, with respect to Tjader; Duncan tracked down and interviewed Burnett, and then kindly shared the drummer's contact information. Burnett's path crossed Guaraldi's only fleetingly, but significantly, and the drummer cheerfully welcomed the chance to reflect on his memories of Dr. Funk.

Burnett made his first appearance with Tjader's band on March 14, 1966, during a gig at El Matador. The drummer remained with Tjader for a little over two years, departing in the summer of 1968.

"El Matador was our home base, with Cal," Burnett recalled. "We'd go on the road and be gone for awhile; when we returned, we'd rest for a week, maybe two. Then we'd be back at El Matador, and folks would say, Hey, Cal's back, and the place would be packed every night."

As he related during an interview for Kathy Sloane's Keystone Korner: Portrait of a Jazz Club, Burnett had a room at a place called the Happy House, where numerous jazz musicians both resided and hung out.

"I was still living in Los Angeles," Burnett elaborated, "but Happy House was home when I was in San Francisco. We had a big piano in the living room, and every Sunday we'd have jam sessions, and everybody would play. It was a wonderful place to call home."

Burnett recalled having caught Guaraldi and Bola Sete during their heyday ("a really enjoyable musical situation"), but he didn't actually meet the famously mustachioed pianist until a few years later.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Grace-ful memories

As I've mentioned, this will be a busy year for Guaraldi fans, as we count down to the 50th anniversary of both his Grace Cathedral Jazz Mass (May 21) and the TV debut of A Charlie Brown Christmas.


David Willat and your faithful blog host. (David is the good-looking gent not wearing a
Peanuts T-shirt.)
With respect to the former, I recently shared a radio studio with David Willat, who as an 11-year-old boy had a part in both of those productions. He was a member of the St. Paul Church Choir that spent the better part of 18 months rehearsing what became Guaraldi's Jazz Mass, before performing it for the packed-to-the-gills worshipers at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral on May 21, 1965. A few months later, he and a small number of the choir's younger members rode a bus to San Francisco's Fantasy Records studio, where they supplied the vocal performances for "Christmas Time Is Here" and "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," as part of the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, and also dubbed the Peanuts gang at the end, when everybody shouts "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!"

(I interviewed David and two other former choir members, back in June 2010, during an energetic four-way conversation; the setting was one of the the rehearsal rooms at St. Paul's Church itself, in San Rafael. That was a memorable couple of hours.)

Local-access DJ Bill Buchanan, who back in 2012 granted me his weekly KDRT show to discuss my just-published Guaraldi biography, opened his studio again for a half-hour chat with Willat and me. The three of us had a grand time, as David discussed his experiences back in the day. The interview even resurrected a memory nugget that I'd not heard before, which you'll recognize while listening to the show, and which you can bet I'll be investigating more aggressively.

The show is being broadcast this week on our local station, and the podcast version is available for listening here.

Sadly, I made a lamentable gaffe at one point, with respect to the date of the second presentation of Guaraldi's Jazz Mass. My memory was accurate when I pegged that event in January 1966, at the Rev. Charles Gompertz's Church of Ignacio ... but then I had to spoil the moment by trying for the precise date, and fluffed it. (January 23, for the record, and not January 8. That's what happens when you try to show off.)

That aside, the conversation was lively, and David was a great sport. I only wish Bill's show could have included some of the juicy stuff that was mentioned before and after the microphones went live...


*******


As I mention toward the conclusion of my book, true fame comes when an artist's work enters the pantheon of pop-culture exposure, particularly on television and in cinema. Guaraldi's tunes, as he recorded them, have lived on in TV shows such as The Simpsons and Arrested Development, and in the soundtracks of movies such as The Royal Tennenbaums and An Education.

The most recent big-screen example is the 2014 Hugh Grant romantic comedy, The Rewrite, which also features Marisa Tomei and recent Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons. Although the soundtrack is dominated by original music from Clyde Lawrence and Cody Fitzgerald, the menu also includes tunes by Madeleine Peyroux and Stolen Jars, along with the Vince Guaraldi Trio's rendition of "Since I Fell for You," from his album Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus. Thus far, the soundtrack is available only as an MP3 download at Amazon and a few other digital outlets; no CD has been announced.

Unfortunately, I've no idea when most of us in the States might be able to see the film. Although released in the United Kingdom back in early October, it has yet to secure wide U.S. distribution ... which probably isn't a good sign for a film with such a heavyweight cast. It therefore might be awhile before we can hear Guaraldi's tune within the context of writer/director Marc Lawrence's storyline. Ah, well...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A message from 1967

It tantalized me for years.

The San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive is a marvelous resource: an endeavor that has preserved great chunks of Northern California's television history, whether it originated on film or broadcast video, from the dawn of television to 2005. Best of all, much of the archive's contents have been digitized and made available for online viewing by all, at no cost.


You can check out a nifty video introduction of the archive here.

The archive's deposits are a fascinating window into the past, affording the sort of "You're really there" experience that simply doesn't come from the oh-so-phony "re-enactments" beloved by many of today's cable and satellite channels.

Jazz fans will find tantalizing items, albeit only after some digging. George Lewis and his Ragtime Jazz Band come to life during a 1953 performance at the Hangover Club. Dave Brubeck discusses his former mentor, Darius Milhaud, in a two-part documentary first aired on KQED in 1965. In a 1974 KPIX Eyewitness News report, San Francisco jazz critic Ralph Gleason — also a founding editor of Rolling Stone magazine — reflects on the death and legacy of Duke Ellington.

The archive's collection is sizable, and growing all the time: far faster than its dedicated staff can tabulate, digitize and post the contents. And therein resided the source of my frustration.

A search on Guaraldi, during the research phase of my book, yielded three entries: all of them "waiting to be processed." I was lucky; thanks to relationships cultivated with the many individuals I interviewed, I was able to obtain copies of two of these three items. 

The first, 1965's Bay of Gold, was an hour-length documentary about the San Francisco Bay; it was directed and produced by Lee Mendelson, who later that same year made history with Guaraldi when A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted on television. As the two men already had become friends and creative partners, Mendelson hired Guaraldi to write and perform the score for Bay of Gold, and you'll hear themes and improvisations that never appeared elsewhere (along with a few themes that Guaraldi did later recycle). 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Mass appeal: Chapter 1

Guaraldi fans know that this year marks the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas, first broadcast December 9, 1965: the show that introduced most of the world to "Linus and Lucy" and the other catchy themes that Dr. Funk wrote and performed for that television special. No doubt this occasion will be marked by plenty of publicity, and likely a special event or two; I'll certainly try to keep up with them in this blog.

The hoopla surrounding that first Peanuts TV special, however, threatens to overshadow another Guaraldi milestone also celebrating its golden anniversary this year: the Jazz Mass that he wrote and debuted at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, on May 21, 1965.

Although Guaraldi's score for A Charlie Brown Christmas (and subsequent Peanuts TV specials) had a massive impact on the American public's music taste — unquestionably turning more people onto jazz than any other single artist — his Grace Cathedral Mass is more significant historically, for a variety of reasons.

As I explain in my Guaraldi bio, in part:

The entire concept was completely radical. No American church had ever employed jazz in such a setting [during an actual worship service]. The Rev. Charles Gompertz [who "hired" Guaraldi for this assignment] knew of only one earlier precedent. Geoffrey Beaumont, a London priest, had composed a Jazz Mass in 1956: a work scored for a cantor and a jazz quartet. Beaumont and his composition made the news in 1957, but the vicar's performance of this work always took place after his regular services at St. George's, in Camberwell.

Guaraldi's Mass was an impressive success, and not just in San Francisco.



The subsequent publicity wasn't merely a localized wave; it was a tsunami that swept across the entire country. The Grace Cathedral Mass was granted a page-length article in Time magazine; the single accompanying photo showed Guaraldi and his trio members, Tom Beeson and Lee Charlton, above a caption that read "Praising the Lord with blues and bossa nova."

The Grace Cathedral staff couldn't move quickly enough, in an attempt to replicate the event. No less a jazz icon than Duke Ellington was hired to perform in the cathedral later that same summer, on Sept. 16.

But Guaraldi got there first. He even beat Ellington.

That's huge.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Yankee Songbird

My wife and I spent an enjoyable few hours Wednesday afternoon, at San Francisco's St. Francis Yacht Club. The occasion was a lunchtime presentation by Medea Isphording Bern, author of the just-released photo memoir, San Francisco Jazz. (I discussed this book at length in a previous post.) Medea included us on her guest list, and I must say that the club prepares an impressive lunch spread. Her talk covered the background and creation of her book, accompanied by nifty PowerPoint highlights of the photographs within.


Although we arrived with the expectation of enjoying Medea's presentation, the event delivered an unexpected bonus. We were seated next to veteran jazz chanteuse Pat Yankee, 87 years young, who has mischievous eyes and an impressive memory for details stretching back more than half a century. (That's Pat on the cover of Medea's book, by the way, in an award-winning 1962 publicity shot by photographer Emilie Romaine.)

Medea, who knows of my interest in All Things Guaraldi, had orchestrated the seating arrangement for a reason; this became obvious the moment we were introduced to Pat.

"I knew Vince quite well," she said, "and he accompanied me once."

Do tell, I encouraged her.

"This was when I was working at Goman's Gay '90s, which would have been from about 1952 to '56," she continued, settling into the story.

[Goman's Gay '90s operated from 1941 to 1967, initially at 555 Pacific Avenue, in the old Barbary Coast. In 1956, the club moved to 345 Broadway, where it remained until it closed.]


"Everybody knew everybody back then. Enrico Banducci — he owned the hungry i, you know — he had a television show at the time. This was when the Keanes had all their paintings up in the little gallery room. Vince had his piano there, and he'd be playing when people came out of the big room."

[That would be Margaret and Walter Keane, who became famous in the late 1950s and '60s for her wildly popular paintings of wide-eyed, often gloomy-faced children; they're the subjects of Tim Burton's recent film Big Eyes.]

"Enrico used this space for his television show. He'd interview people, before they performed something; he was quite a character. So he said, 'Come on over, and be on my television show.' So I did. And Vince played for me.

"Now, it wasn't Vince's thing to play something like 'A Good Man Is Hard to Find,' but he did, and he was just wonderful.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Childhood Fantasy

Researchers rely on the kindness of friends and strangers, who occasionally point us in the direction of something — a key piece of information, a fascinating anecdote — that we wouldn't otherwise have found.


In that way, I'm grateful to a good friend for calling my attention to a delightful online profile of Dogpaw Carillo, the sort of cheerful, colorful figure who typifies San Francisco's still-quite-lively counter-culture vibe. Dogpaw — and that's how he prefers to be called — is the star of this engaging and informative article by Viktorija Rinkevičiūtė, which she wrote during her post-graduate stint as a master's student in media, journalism and globalization, while at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. She subsequently returned to Lithuania, where she maintains an engaging blog and looks back fondly on the time she spent in Northern California.

As you'll discover, reading Viktorija's charming piece, Dogpaw spent part of his childhood living directly adjacent to the Treat Avenue headquarters of Fantasy Records. He grew up in a house at 841 Treat; Fantasy was next door, at 855 Treat.

(A quick sidebar: We have become conditioned to assume — thanks in part to a Vince Guaraldi composition — that Fantasy's most famous early home was on Treat Street. But Guaraldi's tune isn't the only source; this slight error has been promulgated by scores of musicians who refer to the good ol' days, when "Fantasy was on Treat Street." Many of them are quoted saying as much in my book. The lapse is understandable; "Treat Street" rolls more swiftly off the tongue, and the rhyme is hard to resist. But it's a mistake nonetheless: Although San Francisco does possess a tiny Treat Street, it's nowhere near the Mission District locale where Fantasy Records made its home ... on Treat Avenue.)

Aside from being absorbed by Dogpaw's childhood memories, I was drawn to the several times he mentioned Guaraldi. Viktorija had no reason to pursue these references to Dr. Funk, since her story focused more generally on Dogpaw, then and now. But I sensed that he'd have more to say about Guaraldi, and so I contacted Viktorija. She kindly shared Dogpaw's contact information, and she also sent along several additional photos that she hadn't used in her article.

I found Dogpaw just as amiable — just as eager to chat about his Treat Avenue days — as I would have expected. And he did, indeed, have a great deal more to share about Guaraldi and Fantasy.

(I've tried to avoid too much overlap with the information in Viktorija's article, although some basic details are necessary.)


Dogpaw examines the exterior of 855 Treat Avenue, the
once-upon-a-time home of Fantasy Records, and now
headquarters of the San Francisco Mime Troupe.
(Photo by 
Viktorija Rinkevičiūtė)
Dogpaw grew up in the house at 841 Treat, and remained there through his teens; his adolescence coincided perfectly with the 1960s, when Fantasy blossomed from a modest jazz label that went "13-1/2 years without a hit" — at which point Guaraldi's "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" came along — to the more ambitious operation that expanded into rock 'n' roll and most famously signed the band that became Creedence Clearwater Revival.

"Fantasy was literally right over the fence," Dogpaw recalls. "They shared the property with a lumberyard; this guy would come in maybe once in a blue moon, and chop and saw some wood, and then take off. His buzz-saw was right next to the studio! But they must've worked it out, because he never made noise when Max [Weiss] wanted to record something.

"At first, I thought the place next door might be a radio station, because you'd see instruments being loaded off vehicles, and going in, and later coming back out again, and all these radio-looking people. That was the vibe, so we kids knew it had something to do with music. Initially, we all thought that every neighborhood had one of these places, like every neighborhood had a playground or a library. This was just normal to us, having a studio on the block.

"But of course it wasn't normal. Growing up on Treat was very, very special."